MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Commissioners have been briefed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture on plans, including two public hearings to hear citizen comments, concerning state efforts to control damage done by Gypsy Moth caterpillars to more than 300 species of trees and shrubs — especially oaks.
“At high populations, they may completely strip trees of their leaves in the spring,” an ODA letter states. “Repeated damage will weaken and eventually kill the trees. Each year the Ohio Department of Agriculture conducts an extensive trapping program to detect growing populations of Gypsy Moth.”
The letter adds, “ODA has recently completed an analysis of Gypsy Moth population across Ohio and has determined that a controlled treatment is needed in your area.”
ODA’s plans through its Gypsy Moth program are to include spraying two types of products using low-flying planes in the late spring and early summer. They include spraying in the western portion of Knox County near Tucker and Dunham roads and in the area of Camp and Braddock roads, as well as the southern part of the county near Bell Church and Henpeck roads.
“The treatments are not harmful to humans, animals, honeybees, or plants,” the ODA emphasized.
One product, called Foray 48B, will be applied to crop production in early-to-mid May, when the Gypsy Moths are in the early caterpillar stages. A second application is applied five to seven days after the first, if needed.
The second product, with the commercial name Splat GM Organic, is designed to mimic the Gypsy Moth pheromone. When applied to tree tops after being sprayed from low-flying planes, “the product disrupts the male moth’s ability to find the female moth and mate,” according to ODA. Splat GM Organic will be applied near mid-June near the start of Gypsy Moth mating season.
Commissioners commented they hope the treatments through the ODA Gypsy Moth Program will halt the harmful insect from migrating further into Knox County. County Administrator Jason Booth noted the damage to Ash trees in recent years by the Emerald Ash Borer. The insect had moved from the north, including in Michigan, south to Ohio starting around 2002. These borers completely devastated White Ash and Green Ash trees in places such as Knox County’s Ramser Arboretum, where its hardwood tree population has been reduced from about 150,000 to 100,000.
Two public open houses in the area are planned: Feb. 6 from 6-8 p.m. at the Village of Granville offices, located at 141 E. Broad St. in Granville; and Feb. 19 from 6-8 p.m. at the Village of Sparta Building, 6605 Ohio 229.
Additional information on the ODA Gypsy Moth Program can be accessed on the website www.agri.ohio.gov. Those who cannot attend either open house but would like to comment by mail can do so by email: email@example.com. The public comment period is active through Feb. 29.
According to ODA, the Gypsy Moth has been a pest to hardwoods since its introduction in 1869.
Established populations live in 19 states from Maine to Wisconsin. Oaks are the preferred host species to feed caterpillars, but they also attack apple, sweetgum, basswood, gray and white birch, poplar, willow and other trees as well as shrubs.
Older larvae will also feed on a number of conifers such as hemlock, pines, spruces and southern white cedar. Infestations can occur without treatments, as “without intervention, this pest spreads about 13 miles per year,” ODA states.
The Gypsy Moth caterpillar, a hairy caterpillar, is identifiable with five pairs of blue spots and six pairs of red spots along the back.
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