ODA proposes aerial gypsy moth treatments

Staff report

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is scheduled to provide gypsy moth aerial treatments to areas across northwest Ohio in early spring to slow the spread of the destructive insect.

Residents in treatment areas are invited to attend open houses and speak directly with those working in the program to learn about gypsy moths and view the maps of affected areas. An open house in Fulton County will be held Feb. 15, 6-8 p.m., at Swanton Village Hall, 219 Chestnut St.

County residents can also visit the Gypsy Moth Webpage at agri.ohio.gov.

Gypsy moths are invasive insects that attack more than 300 different types of trees and shrubs, with oak the preferred species. In the caterpillar stage, the moth feeds heavily on tree leaves 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.

Ohio currently has 51 counties under gypsy moth quarantine, limiting the movement of regulated articles out of those counties.

State officials have three programs aimed at managing the pest. They include:

* Suppression program – Occurs in counties where gypsy moths are already established. Landowners must voluntarily request treatment to suppress populations.

* Slow The Spread program – Occurs in counties in front of larger, advancing gypsy moth populations. Officials work to detect and control isolated populations in order to slow the overall gypsy moth advancing infestation.

* Eradication program – Occurs in non-infested areas where an isolated population occurs, often due to movement of infested firewood or outdoor equipment. Control treatments are used to eradicate the gypsy moth from these areas.

Treatments used include larvacide, a compound derived from naturally occurring bacteria found in the soil; flake or liquid product that disrupts the male moth’s ability to locate females; Mimic 2LV, a chemical insecticide that imitates the natural insect molting hormone, triggering a premature and lethal molt in gypsy moth larvae; and Gypchek, a bio-insecticide specifically used to control gypsy moths.

Different treatments are used depending on area and extent of infestation, and all require an aerial application. According to which treatment is used, they’re dispensed in May or June. None are toxic to humans, pets, birds or fish.

Fulton County residents unable to attend the open house can provide official comment about the proposed treatment blocks by Feb. 28 to plantpest@agri.ohio,gov or by hard copy to Gypsy Moth Program, Plant Health Division – Building 23, Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068.

Staff report