Aerial treatments to disrupt the mating process of gypsy moths are scheduled for several sites in the Hobart area of Lake County on June 21 and 22, dependent upon favorable weather.
This is a change from the dates listed on a postcard area residents will receive from the DNR Division of Entomology and Plant Pathology in the next few days, which lists the week of June 14 as the start of the annual treatments. The delay is the result of treatment planes that will be working in other states on the originally scheduled dates. Should weather prevent or stop treatment on June 21 or 22, the treatment will resume on the next suitable day.
If weather is favorable and operations move faster than expected in other states, it's possible the Hobart area could be treated as early as June 18, but that will not be known until June 16.
Maps of the areas to be treated and other pertinent information can be found on the DNR entomology website, gypsymoth.in.gov.
Successful application of the treatment is especially dependent upon the lack of high wind or rain. When done, the treatment will start in the early morning and continue until completed or stopped by weather.
The mating-disruption process consists of dropping small plastic flakes from an airplane. One or more treatment airplanes will be assigned to treat the sites. Residents, however, may see other airplanes. An observation plane is used to fly above the treatment planes for safety.
The green flakes carry the scent of the female gypsy moth. The scent of the female is vital in the mating process because female moths cannot fly and must use scent to attract their mates. The male moths, which can fly, use the scent to find the females. The tiny flakes, each about the size of a hyphen on a typewriter, falsely indicate an abundance of females in the area. The male moths recognize the scent on the flakes and look for a mate in the wrong place. The males, being misled, fail to mate, and no offspring are produced to eat the tree leaves the next year.
While the application poses no health threat to people, pets, livestock or other animals, individuals in the treatment areas may notice the small green flakes on their vehicles. Washing vehicles promptly with soap and water will remove the flakes.
Anyone with questions about this project may call toll free at 1-877-INFO DNR (463-6367).
The mating-disruption technique has been used in other states and in Indiana since 1999. It has proved effective where there is very low-level infestation and female moths are hard to find. The gypsy moth, which now has a foothold in some counties in northeast Indiana, was brought to this country from Europe more than 100 years ago, according to Phil Marshall, state entomologist.
"The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has successfully held back introductions of this pest throughout Indiana for more than 20 years. Now that the gypsy moth is within Indiana's borders, however, residents can expect to see more of this pest throughout the next decade," he added.
Gypsy moth movement occurs naturally along the front of the generally infested area. They typically advance at the rate of approximately 12 miles per year. For the past 25 years, Indiana has delayed gypsy moths from becoming more widespread through aerial applications wherever isolated infestations have been detected. Because of this delay, as the gypsy moth moves through the state, the DNR will be able to incorporate new technologies and allow the natural enemies of the gypsy moth to keep up with the infestations.
This will help preserve the long-term health of Indiana's woodlands and urban forests. The gypsy moth is the most serious forest and urban landscape pest in the United States. It now occupies the northeastern part of the country, a portion of northeast Ohio, the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and the eastern portion of Wisconsin.
The gypsy moth is capable of defoliating 3 million acres of forest a year, which is approximately equivalent to 70 percent of Indiana's forested acreage. There are approximately 4.4 million acres of forested land in Indiana. About 3.25 million acres, or 80 percent of the trees in those forests, are susceptible to gypsy moth damage. The urban environment is also home to a variety of plants favorable to gypsy moths. The current threat in northern Indiana comes from the natural spread of the infestation.
Drastic changes in ecological habitat due to the loss of foliage may lead to the loss of other plants and wildlife. Death to valuable timber may cause an economic impact detrimental to the timber and other related industries.
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