By DENISE GRANT
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has announced it will spray for gypsy moths in forested areas on the eastern edge of Findlay this spring.
A public meeting about the spraying program will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Brugeman Lodge in Riverbend Recreation Area, 16618 Marion Township 208.
Notification letters will be sent to all residents affected by the spraying. The public comment period ends Feb. 28.
Questions can be directed to 614-728-6400 or by email to David Adkins, inspection manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Searchable online maps are available at www.agri.ohio.gov. The maps are searchable by address.
Brett Gates, a department spokesperson, said Hancock County is on the leading edge of efforts to stop the European gypsy moth from completely overspreading the state. The department last sprayed for the moth in Hancock County in 2017.
There are currently 51 counties in Ohio under quarantine for the pest, including the entire eastern half of the state.
Henry, Wood and Seneca counties are already in the quarantine area for the gypsy moth, which puts restrictions and inspection requirements on firewood, nursery stock shipments, and even moving outdoor equipment, furniture and other items into a nonquarantined county.
This invasive species does damage by defoliating trees and shrubs as a caterpillar. In a few years, the moths, along with other environmental stresses, can kill trees and shrubs. Over 300 species of trees and shrubs are susceptible to damage from the caterpillars.
The state agriculture department considers it one of the most destructive insects threatening Ohio’s forests and ornamental plants.
Gates said the moth is becoming more active in Hancock County based on trapping and surveys, which makes the spraying necessary.
The most disruptive part of the spraying program will be the planes, Gates said. He said the planes will fly very close to treetops during the treatments. The chemicals being used are harmless to humans, domestic animals, other insects, wildlife, plants and trees.
A larvacide will be administered in mid-May, followed by a mating disruption treatment in mid-June.
Gates said the exact dates will be based on the moth’s life cycle this spring and will be announced prior to the spraying.
The larvacide is the biological insecticide Btk, known under the commercial name Foray 48B. Two applications of this chemical to the tree canopy may be needed, applied about one week apart.
The chemical forms toxins in the stomach of the gypsy moth caterpillar, causing it to stop eating and die.
The mating disruption chemical called Splat Gypsy Moth is considered an organic treatment, and contains the synthetic gypsy moth pheromone named disparlure.
When applied to the tree canopy, the pheromone disrupts communication between the male and female moths, preventing them from finding each other. The treatment does not kill the moth, but does reduce the population the next year.
More information about the moths and the spraying program can be found online at the department’s website.