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Moving Guide

Don’t Let Moths Mess Up Your Move

| Home Tips | Gerry Clark

Escaping a laboratory roughly 150 years ago, they first feasted on New England’s forests before blazing a trail of destruction westward and southward. Their hunger apparently knows no bounds.

Sounds like an eco-disaster movie poster, doesn’t it? Well, this story is the real deal and, instead of coming to a theater near you, this menace might well be in your own backyard.

Introducing…the gypsy moth.

Under quarantine

The government knows all about it…and they want you and interstate moving companies to help. By the way: It’s the law. These pests represent such an environmental threat that the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires those living in an infested area to inspect and, if necessary, remove gypsy-moth eggs from their household items before moving out of state to a non-infested location. An official inspection certificate also must be completed and submitted to the USDA.

Capable of killing 300-plus tree species via their voracious appetite for leaves, the chomping culprits are the caterpillars—not the full-grown moths—and these pests have defoliated more than 75 million U.S. acres since 1970.

If you’re planning an interstate move or full-fledged cross country move and relocating from any area within the following states, you’ll need to conduct a gypsy-moth inspection:

  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • Michigan

Other impacted regions are Washington D. C. and portions of Maine, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Search and destroy

USDA permits two eradication routes: Conduct your own inspection using the government’s self-inspection checklist or hire a certified pesticide applicator.

Doing the job yourself? Experts say to check for gypsy-moth egg masses on the surfaces and crevices of all outdoor household items, including mailboxes, bird feeders, grills, lawn equipment, bicycles, ladders, water hoses, patio furniture, toys and trailers. If found, egg masses must be removed, then destroyed. First, scrape them off with a tool such as a putty knife or stiff brush. Then destroy egg masses (and other life stages, such as larvae) by placing them in a container of hot, soapy water or sealing them in a plastic bag and placing in sunlight.

USDA officials advise marking off each task on the checklist as it’s completed. If you’re hiring a third-party pesticide applicator, make sure he provides you with a completed and signed checklist.

Inspection timeline

Government officials say those moving between April and August should conduct the inspection on moving day (female moths lay eggs and caterpillars spread during spring and summer). If that’s impossible, items must be protected from possible infestation via temporary storage either by sealing them under a tarp, moving them indoors or stowing them in a closed moving truck.

It’s important to give your professional movers a copy of the completed checklist since a USDA or state official could request to view it at any point during an interstate move. In fact, USDA officials recommend keeping the checklist for at least five years after your cross country move is completed. Let’s work together to leave the pests behind, safeguard your move and protect our environment.

At National Van Lines, we make long distance moving easy. As a national moving company, we’ve been helping families move memories for nearly 90 years. Contact us online or call 877-590-2810 for answers to your questions plus a free moving quote.

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