The Wayne County Extension Office has received numerous calls this year about gypsy moth infestations affecting trees. Gypsy moth is a non-native, invasive species that is one of the most destructive pests impacting our forest and ornamental plants. Gypsy moth adults lay eggs in the fall, typically under the tree bark, where they overwinter. Then in the late spring and early summer, the eggs hatch and the caterpillars emerge and feed on trees such as oaks, pine and spruce, the latter two being favored by older caterpillars. When a tree is infested with gypsy moth, they can nearly completely defoliate the tree. Typically, if a well-established tree is defoliated for a single year, it will still be able to survive and produce new foliage the following year. Should the tree be defoliated for a second year in a row, the tree will almost always die.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the USDA Forest Service placed a quarantine on the area to attempt to limit the spread of gypsy moth. It is estimated that the gypsy moth infestation area in Ohio continues to spread by approximately 13 miles per year. Due to the continued spread of gypsy moth throughout the state, it has been determined that total elimination of gypsy moth from Ohio is no longer feasible. The current suppression programs that are put in place by ODA are used to reduce the impact of the pest, rather than attempting total eradication.
ODA uses reports to align their treatment areas more efficiently, in an effort to reduce damages and prevent larger outbreaks. If you believe you have had gypsy moths affecting trees on your property, it is very important that you report this to ODA. You may also choose to participate in the suppression program. The suppression program, which is a voluntary program, is funded by the ODA, USDA Forest Service, and private landowners through a 50/50 cost share. Landowners can request that the state apply an aerial insecticide treatment on their property. ODA staff will conduct a survey to determine if a proposed treatment area meets the criteria to participate in the suppression program.
The treatment criteria call for the area in question to be in a county that has been designated quarantined for gypsy moth. The treatment block must also be 50 contiguous forested acres. This means that you may have to work with your neighbors to determine if you need to establish a large enough block to be eligible, should the gypsy moth number be severe enough to warrant a treatment. There are several other criteria that need to be met, which can be found on the ODA’s gypsy moth site.
Although total eradication of the gypsy moth is no longer an attainable goal, ODA is still asking for gypsy moth infestations to be reported to their Gypsy Moth Program. If you think you have gypsy moth or would like more information on gypsy moth or the suppression program, you can visit the ODA website and click on the Plant Health tab and find the Gypsy Moth Program. Under the Gypsy Moth Program tab, you will find information such as identification, treatment maps, options for home practices and the contact information for the ODA Gypsy Moth Program. For more information or to report gypsy moth infestations, you can contact ODA at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 614-728-6400.
Frank Becker is an OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Assistant and IPM Program Coordinator. He may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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