Three egg masses of the destructive Asian gypsy moth were discovered on a vehicle transport ship in the port of Baltimore earlier this month.
Agriculture specialists from U.S. Customs and Border Protection found the masses on Aug. 2 aboard the Volans Leader, the agency announced Wednesday. They were confirmed as Asian gypsy moth by a U.S. Department of Agriculture lab.
The agency’s inspectors found three egg masses in the ship’s crow’s nest and a fourth on a bulkhead below the bridge. While three were Asian gypsy moth eggs, the fourth was identified as rosy gypsy moth, also an actionable agriculture threat.
The Volans Leader had called in Japan, a high-risk area for Asian gypsy moths, in June.
Customs works to prevent Asian gypsy moths from entering the United States because they are considered highly destructive. The moth’s egg masses produce hundreds of voracious caterpillars, which can quickly defoliate large areas of trees and bushes. They attack more than 500 species of trees and plants.
It was the second discovery of Asian gypsy moth eggs on a vehicle carrier in Baltimore in a nine-day period, Customs said. On July 25, they were found aboard the Gaia Leader.
Both ships are operated by NYK Line, a large Japanese shipping company.
“Once again, sharp Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists detected and quickly mitigated a potentially serious threat posed by the highly invasive and destructive Asian Gypsy Moth,” said Casey Durst, director of Customs’ Baltimore field office, in a statement. “CBP agriculture specialists continue to protect our nation’s agriculture and our economy through extraordinary vigilance and stringent inspections of merchant vessels and their cargo.”