Aerial treatments to slow the spread of gypsy moths in selected areas of Allen, Delaware, Elkhart and LaPorte counties that were tentatively scheduled for Monday morning have been postponed until Tuesday morning because of weather. Wednesday is the backup date.
Affected areas include: Allen County (Arlington Park; Maplecrest 2008; St. Joe 2008; Waterswolde, Woodbine and Memorial Park, all in Fort Wayne; and Wappes Road, outside of Fort Wayne); Delaware County (Nebo, north of Yorktown and west of Muncie); Elkhart County (County Road 30 and Goshen); and LaPorte County (Beatty Corner and Lofgren).
Each of these areas is scheduled to receive its second and final treatment of the spring. The second round of treatment typically occurs four to 10 days after the first round, depending on weather. The "2008 site" designation attached to some of the sites means that the area to be treated is near but not the same as the site treated last year or in prior years.
The sites in Delaware and Elkhart counties will be treated first, followed by the sites in Allen County, then the LaPorte County sites.
Application typically begins 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 cease by early afternoon. If rain or high wind prevents completion of a flight, the balance of the site is scheduled for the next suitable day.
A yellow crop duster airplane flies 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.
On the days of treatment an airplane applies 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.
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.
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 and Division of Forestry program.
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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