Ag department to do aerial treatments against gypsy mothsThe Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is preparing to treat approximately 150,000 acres of land in Carlton and St. Louis Counties to slow the spread of a gypsy moth infestation that was identified last summer.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is preparing to treat approximately 150,000 acres of land in Carlton and St. Louis Counties to slow the spread of a gypsy moth infestation that was identified last summer. Officials will conduct the aerial treatments from Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13, depending on weather conditions.
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 involving the aerial application of tiny flakes coated with a pheromone that confuses male gypsy moths. 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. Application is timed just as adult moths emerge in mid-summer. Mating disruption has been widely used for gypsy moth management in other states, and successful treatments can reduce gypsy moth populations by more than 66 percent.
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. Updates before, during and after the treatments will also be given on MDA’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/mnagriculture) and MDA’s Twitter account (www.twitter.com/mnagriculture). MDA's website (www.mda.state.mn.us/gypsymoth) also has information about gypsy moths and control efforts.
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. MDA apologizes for any inconvenience;
• The airplane noise may spook pets, so residents may wish to keep them indoors during the treatment;
• The treatment product has no known health effects for humans, but to avoid it residents may wish to stay indoors during the treatment; and
• 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.