Monitoring gypsy moths required to insure a healthy watershed
The gypsy moth is an invasive pest of hardwood forests in the United States. The gypsy moth caterpillar eats the leaves of hardwood trees, leaving the trees bare, stressed and vulnerable to disease and death. To reduce the susceptibility of an infestation, Newport News Waterworks has a forest management program which promotes tree health.
As part of the forest management program, Waterworks started monitoring the gypsy moth in 1989. The monitoring program involves the annual trapping of male gypsy moths on the watershed property in Newport News and York County. In addition, a firewood program was established at the Newport News Park Campground to reduce the chance of spreading non-native insects into the watershed from out-of-town campers.
The gypsy moth has existed at low levels on the peninsula since the 1970s. Since 1989, an average of 27 moths per year were trapped; the highest year was in 1992 when 93 moths were trapped and for 2017, 14 moths were trapped.
The watershed forest currently is the oldest and largest certified Tree Farm under the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) in the state of Virginia. ATFS certification means that the forest meets eight standards of sustainability and is managed for multiple purposes: water, wildlife, wood, and recreation. The watershed forest became certified in 1947.