629 - 3/09 – Asian Gypsy Moths - Worldwide

The Association has noticed an increase in the number of cases concerning Asian Gypsy Moths (AGM) onboard Member vessels. This bulletin outlines the precautions to be taken by the ships crew and how to search the vessel correctly.

As its name suggests the moth originates from the Asian continent but has become more prominent in North America where it is considered a serious risk to forestry and woodland. The AGM is inadvertently transported around the world onboard ships both on the superstructure of the vessel and with its cargo.

The main risk areas include eastern Russia, northern China, Japan and Korea as well some areas of the Mediterranean. If a vessel loads or sails through one of these areas during the high risk season (typically May until October) then a thorough inspection should be carried out. It is vitally important to remember that the moths laying the eggs will generally die out on transit or fly away from the vessel but the egg masses that remain are tremendously resilient to large fluctuations in temperature and moisture.


The most at risk areas of the vessel will include areas sheltered from the elements and those exposed to lights so extra time should be taken to inspect cavities, crevices and gaps between cargos. Egg masses will typically be very small, only around 1 – 1.5 inches in length and covered in yellow/orange fuzz which is given off by the female’s abdomen.


The eggs can gather in very hard to reach places and for this reason it is important to use binoculars when carrying out inspections. Upon the discovery of an egg mass it should be scraped from the surface using a paint scraper or similar tool and placed in a container or vial. Once contained the eggs should be destroyed, please note that throwing the eggs into water will not suffice. A bleach or similar detergent should be used and the remains should be disposed of in a safe manner or burnt in the ships incinerator.


In the past a number of bulletins have been written by the Association covering high risk moth areas along with the regulation of the problem worldwide. These can be found below,


Bulletin 429 – 09/05

Bulletin 527 – 06/07

Bulletin 579 – 05/08

Bulletin 599 – 09/08


A copy of the Gypsy Moth Inspectional Pocket Guide, complied by the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service can be downloaded at the link below. It is advised that the guide is distributed amongst members of the crew.


Gypsy Moth Inspectional Guide


Source of information: 

United States Department of Agriculture 

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