Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Low-flying planes to spray for gypsy moths in Clark, Logan counties

The Ohio Department of Agriculture plans to dispatch low-flying airplanes in late April to spray 350 acres in Clark and Logan counties for gypsy moths.

The 100-acre Clark County target area is on Saint Paris Pike between Upper Valley Pike and Hominy Ridge Road. The 250 acres in Logan County are near East Liberty.

April 19 is the tentative first date of spraying, but the timing will depend on the weather.

The destructive moth has been spreading through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. Clark and Logan counties are in a transition zone between infested and uninfested areas.

In its caterpillar or larval stage, the gypsy moth “feeds on the leaves of trees and shrubs and is especially fond of oak,” said a department press release. “A healthy tree can usually withstand only two years of defoliation before it is permanently damaged.”

Ohio State University Extension Agent Pam Bennett says infestations are unpleasant.

“I can tell you that you don’t want these caterpillars on our trees and in our backyards,” Bennett said. “They are extremely messy to the point that you stand under an infested tree and literally hear their frass (leavings) drop from the tree.

“The longer we can keep them out the area, the better.”

The Department of Agriculture said it sprays affected areas with Foray, a “naturally occurring bacterium found in the soil that interferes with the caterpillars’ feeding cycles.”

Foray “is not toxic to humans, pets, birds or fish,” the release said.

Although fond of oaks, the moth feeds on more than 300 tree and shrub species.

Maps of the areas to be treated are listed by county at, and updates on days of treatment are available by calling (614) 387-0907.

This summer, a 900-acre area of Clark County in the same vicinity will be treated in the mating disruption phase of the gypsy moth program.

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