CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia Agriculture Department officials are asking landowners to register for a program to help slow the spread of an invasive insect known as the gypsy moth.

Application forms are available online. Applications are being taken from July 1 to Aug. 31 and require a $1 per acre deposit, up to $500.

The agency says a forest health protection specialist will determine whether the level of infestation meets guidelines. A contract to participate must be signed by early December.

At least 50 contiguous acres of wooded land is required to participate. Adjoining landowners may combine properties to meet the requirement.

Plant Industries Director Tim Brown says the gypsy moth feeds on hundreds of species of trees and shrubs, including West Virginia hardwoods. Affected trees can become more susceptible to other pests and diseases.

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