State experts closely watching winter moth for potential crop impact

ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- After a long winter many farmers across Maine might have to deal with a tiny pest this spring.

State officials are trying to determine what impact 'winter moths' could have. The bugs were first detected in Maine two years ago after causing years of problems down in Massachusetts.

Pest experts say the moths lay their eggs near the buds of many plants including ones that can bear fruit. Then once those eggs hatch in the spring, the new moths feed off of the buds themselves.

State officials say this bug has caused noticeable damage to crops in the past. This year Maine's department of agriculture, conservation and forestry is still conducting tests to see how many there might be.

"Our concern here is not only our apple crop of course especially along the coast but any of our cranberry bogs that are in production," said Jim Dill, who is a pest management specialist, with the University of Maine's Cooperative Extension, "and also of course more importantly for us is the low bush blueberry...the wild blueberry."

For now officials are hoping that the cold winter dealt a blow to the moth's population but they say it will be a few more weeks before they know for sure.

Any farmer with concerns about their crops should contact the department of conservation.


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