Open houses on gypsy moths planned


Areas across Ohio are slated to receive gypsy moth aerial treatments by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in early spring to slow the spread of the destructive insect. Department staff members will host several open houses in treatment areas that will offer attendees the opportunity to speak directly with those who work with the program, learn about the pest, and view maps of treatment areas.

Citizens can also visit http://agri.ohio.gov/divs/plant/gypsy/gypsy-index.aspx to learn more about this pest and to view maps of the treatment areas. Those with questions who live near a treatment area in the northwest Ohio region will have the opportunity to talk with experts at an open house on Feb. 13, from 6 – 8 p.m., at The Lodge at Strawberry Acres Park, 950 South McCord Road, Holland.

The closest treatment area planned for 2017 is in Holland.

Gypsy moths are invasive insects that attack more than 300 different types of trees and shrubs, with oak being the preferred species. In its caterpillar stage, the moth feeds heavily on the leaves of trees and shrubs limiting their ability to photosynthesize. A healthy tree can usually withstand only two years of defoliation before it is permanently damaged or dies.

Currently in Ohio there are 51 counties under gypsy moth quarantine, limiting the movement of regulated articles out of those counties.

To combat this problem, the department uses different types of treatment strategies to slow the spread of gypsy moth in Ohio. Officials have three programs aimed to manage the pest, including:

• The “Suppression” program, which occurs in counties where the pest is already established. Landowner(s) must voluntarily request treatment to help suppress populations.

• The “Slow-the-Spread” program, which occurs in counties in front of the larger, advancing gypsy moth population. In these counties, officials work to detect and control isolated populations in an effort to slow the overall advancing gypsy moth infestation.

• The “Eradication” program, which occurs in non-infested areas where an isolated population occurs, often due to the movement of infested firewood or outdoor equipment. Department officials use control treatments aimed at eradication of gypsy moth from these areas.

Treatments used for gypsy moth control in this planned treatment area include:

• Larvacide (Btk), a compound derived from a naturally occurring bacteria found in the soil that is effective in gypsy larvae control.

• Mating disruption product, flakes or liquid that disrupt the male moth’s ability to locate females.

The department uses different types of treatments, depending on the location and extent of infestation. All treatments require an aerial application. Larvacide treatments will take place in early to mid-May, and mating disruption treatments will begin in mid-June. The treatments are not toxic to humans, pets, birds or fish.

Citizens who cannot attend the open houses and would like to provide official comment about the proposed treatment blocks should send correspondence to the department by Feb. 28. Letters can be sent by e-mail to plantpest@agri.ohio.gov or by hard copy to the attention of the Gypsy Moth Program, Plant Health Division – Building 23, Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, OH 43068.