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State proposes gypsy moth treatments in Lake County

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and partner organizations are planning to tackle gypsy moth infestations this spring west of Two Harbors, and this summer near Beaver Bay. In anticipation of the proposed treatments, the department is inviting people to learn about the effort at open houses Feb. 28 in Two Harbors and Beaver Bay.

Gypsy moths are ranked among America's most destructive tree pests. The insect has caused millions of dollars in damage to forests as it has spread from New England to the Midwest in recent decades. Gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest.

The state began enforcing a gypsy moth quarantine in 2014 in Lake and Cook counties, requiring that tourists check their campers and loggers check their trucks and loads to ensure they aren't transporting moth eggs out of the two counties now considered saturated with the invasive pest.

The MDA maintains a monitoring program to watch for new infestations, and when an infestation is found, the department conducts aerial treatments of the infestation before it can spread. In 2017, the MDA found an infestation west of Two Harbors and is now developing a treatment plan for an area of about 525 acres centered on the intersection of Shoreview Road and Seventh Avenue. MDA also found an infestation in a larger area west of Beaver Bay that includes portions of the Superior National Forest, and is working with the U.S. Forest Service to treat a 73,500-acre area.

The MDA will host an open house Feb. 28 from 3-4 p.m. at the Lake County Forestry Office, 419 Airport Road in Two Harbors, and from 6-7 p.m. at the Beaver Bay Community Center, 711 McDonald Ave., to share information about gypsy moths and the planned treatments.