State deploys 10,000 moths to munch Maui fireweed - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State deploys 10,000 moths to munch Maui fireweed

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Secusio extensa moth. (Image source: Hawaii Department of Health) Secusio extensa moth. (Image source: Hawaii Department of Health)
Fireweed, aka Madagascar ragwort Fireweed, aka Madagascar ragwort

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A state program aimed at knocking back a toxic weed has released more than 10,000 Madagascaran fireweed moths and larvae in the past year.

Officials tell the Maui News that the program might take a decade to show noticeable effects on the fireweeds choking Maui pastures.

But the weed control is in full swing. The Department of Agriculture distributed 2,500 moths in Maui in March 2013. Farmers and ranchers have been cultivating the insects in cages for release onto their properties.

State officials focused early efforts on showing people how to keep the moths alive. Since then, officials have been monitoring progress by the larvae to establish themselves in areas with fireweed infestations.

When unchecked, the weed crowds out plants that livestock eat, hurting cattle and goat farms.

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