Aerial Treatment of Gypsy Moths in St. Louis and Carlton Counties

By KBJR News 1

Aerial Treatment of Gypsy Moths in St. Louis and Carlton Counties

July 5, 2012 Updated Jul 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- Aerial treatment of gypsy moths will begin next week in Carlton and St. Louis Counties.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is preparing to treat 150,000 acres of land between the two counties to stop the spread of the invasive gypsy moths.

Aerial spraying will occur between Monday, July 9th though Friday, July 13th, depending on weather.

Treatments work best in areas where moth populations are still low. Trapping results from 2011 surveys determined Cloquet, Boulder Lake and Fairbanks areas had populations of gypsy moth significant enough to be of concern, but low enough for the treatment to still be effective.

MDA will use a method of mating disruption. Aerial application of tiny flakes coated with a pheromone that confuses male gypsy moths will be spread throughout this area.

This makes it difficult for the male gypsy moths to find females for mating, which means fewer caterpillars hatching and attacking trees the next year.

Since 2004, MDA has participated in the national Slow the Spread of Gypsy Moth program directed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The majority of its resources have been focused on protecting the forests of the North Shore, which are most at risk as gypsy moth spreads west into the state. These efforts protect forest health, property values and the state’s tourism industry.

Gypsy moths are among America's most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage to Eastern forests.

The moths are common in Wisconsin and are now threatening Minnesota. If present in large numbers, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest.

Oak, poplar, birch and willow are among their preferred hosts. The moths spread slowly on their own, but people can unintentionally help them spread by transporting firewood or other items on which the moths have laid their eggs.

To help area citizens stay informed, the MDA has set up an Arrest the Pest Hotline at 888-545-MOTH. The hotline will offer the latest details about treatment dates and times.

The MDA offers the following tips to residents in and around the treatment area:
• For the moth treatment to work, it must begin early in the morning. Residents may be awakened on that day by the noise of the low-flying airplane.
• The treatment product has no known health effects for humans, but to avoid it, residents may wish to stay indoors during the treatment.
• The residue will not damage a vehicle's finish, but residents may wish to park vehicles indoors to avoid having to wash them after the application. Soapy water will remove any residue on outdoor items.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns