Mississippi Prepares To Battle Invasive Insects - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/24/05

Mississippi Prepares To Battle Invasive Insects

Mississippi may be Texas and Arizona's last defense against an insect already reeking havoc on other parts of the country. The Department of Agriculture is launching an effort to keep the Cactus moth from making it here to our state.

Since 1989, the moths have been killing large numbers of prickly pear cactus in Florida. So far the insect has been spotted as far west as Dauphin Island. Officials say the moth has the potential to devastate Texas and Arizona where cattle and deer depend on cactus for food during droughts.

"Mississippi is the stopping point we hope. We're trying to do everything we can to stop it from moving any further. There is an eradication program going on in the panhandle in Florida, then we'll run traps and other methods of detection in Mississippi to try to stop its spread," B.J. Lewis with the Department of Agriculture said.

Traps have been set up in Jackson County and in Gulf Islands National Seashore. Lewis says Mexico is also concerned about the spread of the cactus moth and even contributed money towards stopping it.

The Department of Agriculture is trying to locate areas where prickly pear cactus is growing. If you know of one, click here to email Victor Maddox or phone him at (662) 325-2313.

by Danielle Thomas

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