Spray away gypsy moths? New England lets nature try first

Some politicians want the government to help eradicate the pests

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Should New England states spray insecticides to prevent another year of widespread tree defoliation caused by gypsy moths? Some politicians want the government to help eradicate the pests, though entomologists say forests will be better off if nature takes care of itself.

In Rhode Island, House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, a West Warwick Republican, says the infestation is a crisis. She’s called on Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo to address it with a statewide caterpillar eradication program.

The state Department of Environmental Management says it has no plans to heed Morgan’s advice. While some states, such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, conduct aerial spraying, New England environmental officials and scientists say it would be too costly, harm other species and won’t eradicate moths that have been here since the 19th century.

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