Aerial treatments to slow the spread of gypsy moths in selected areas of Delaware, Allen, Elkhart, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties have been set for the week of May 12, weather permitting.
The DNR recently sent letters to residents of those areas saying that the treatments would start either the week of May 5 or the week of May 12. Cool weather has slowed leaf development on trees, resulting in the delay until the latter week.
Some sites will receive two rounds of Btk treatment; other sites will receive one round of treatment, depending on the predetermined level of infestation.
Sites that will receive two rounds of treatment include Delaware County (Nebo, north of Yorktown and west of Muncie); Allen County (Arlington Park, Maplecrest 2008 site, Memorial Park, St Joe 2008 site, Waterswolde, and Woodbine, all in Fort Wayne area, and Wappes Road); and Elkhart County (County Road 30 and Goshen); and LaPorte County (Beatty Corner and Lofgren)
Sites that will receive one round of Btk treatment include LaPorte County (Springville 2008 site) and St. Joseph (Quince Road).
The "2008 site" designation attached to some of the area means that the area to be treated is near but not the same as the site treated last year.
If rain or high wind prevents completion of any day of treatment, the balance of the sites will be scheduled for the next suitable day and continue until the round of treatment is completed.
The second round of treatment will occur four to 10 days after the first round, depending on weather, and is likely to be done the week of May 19.
A yellow crop duster airplane will fly 50-125 feet above treetops to do the treatments. An observation plane flies above the treatment plane for safety, thus people may see two planes. The yellow crop duster airplane will make turns over adjacent areas but will not release any material over those areas.
When the first round of treatment is made, application could begin at 6 a.m. (sunrise). The flights continue through the day as long as the weather and flight schedule permit. If weather is favorable, the flights should cease by early afternoon. If rain or high wind prevents completion of a flight, the balance of the site would be scheduled for the next suitable day.
On the days of treatment an airplane will apply a bacterium commonly found in the soil to the treetops of infested areas. When a gypsy moth caterpillar eats a leaf with the bacterium on it, the bacterium shuts down the digestive system of caterpillars so they can't digest leaves and soon die.
For more than 25 years the pest has been held in check and confined to comparatively small infestations, primarily in northern Indiana, through this DNR Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology program.
The bacterium used is called Btk, short for Bacillus thuringiensis (var. kurstaki). A very small number of people have experienced minor eye or sinus irritation if they are directly exposed to Btk. People who live or work near the treatment areas can take common sense precautions, including avoiding direct exposure of Btk to themselves or their belongings. In general, Btk is not harmful to humans or pets.
People in treatment areas who are concerned about sensitivity to the treatment may choose to adjust their time spent outdoors to avoid exposure and stay indoors until one-half to one hour after the plane has completed its last flight over the area. Pet food and water or other food or drink should be covered or kept indoors until one-half hour after the spraying.
People with questions about this project may call Indianapolis, toll-free at 1-866-NOEXOTIC (663-9684) beginning at 5:30 a.m. on days treatments are scheduled; or 1-877-INFODNR (463-6367), between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; or call their county extension office.
Maps and aerial photographs of the treatment sites and further information about the gypsy moth may be found on the DNR Entomology Web site at dnr.IN.gov/entomolo/index.htm.
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