Asian Gypsy Moth eggs

Asian Gypsy Moth eggs found aboard a ship docked in Baltimore. (Photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

The eggs of a destructive foreign moth species that "poses a significant threat to our nation's forests and urban landscapes" were found aboard a carrier ship docked in Baltimore in mid-September, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Monday.

Customs agents discovered six masses of Asian Gypsy Moth eggs during a Sept. 16 inspection of the Columbia Highway, a vehicle carrier that had made port calls in Japan in June and July, the border agency said.

Females of the species can travel 25 miles per day and "can lay egg masses that could yield hundreds of hungry caterpillars," the agency said.

The female is also "a voracious eater that attacks more than 500 species of trees and plants," the agency said.

The masses were removed and the area was treated with a pest spray, the agency said.

Then, while transiting to another port in Brunswick, Ga., the ship's crew found 20 additional egg masses, and customs agents found an additional mass in Brunswick, officials said.

The ship was found to be clear of masses during a subsequent inspection in Charleston, S.C.

Officials across the country have fought to eradicate Asian gypsy moths whenever they are found, because of their potential harm, particularly to the agricultural industry.

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun