Letter from Rep. Danou: Aerial spray efforts aim to slow the spread of the Gypsy Moth in western WisconsinFor the past few weeks, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has been conducting aerial sprays to slow the spread of the gypsy moth in Western Wisconsin.
By: Rep. Chris Danou, Pierce County Herald
For the past few weeks, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has been conducting aerial sprays to slow the spread of the gypsy moth in Western Wisconsin. This week, DATCP is targeting aerial spraying in Barron, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Jackson, Polk, Rusk and Trempealeau counties.
The gypsy moth is a leaf-eating, destructive and invasive pest from Europe, Asia and North Africa that is established in parts of Canada, northeastern states and the upper Midwest, including the central and eastern parts of Wisconsin. Although small in size, vast numbers of this insect can cause significant damage and loss as it feeds on the leaves of oaks, maples, crabapple, aspen, birch and many other species of trees and shrubs.
The presence of the gypsy moth is concerning because it can withstand severe element and it is not a picky eater. Their eggs can withstand temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit and they are able to eat more than 300 different types of plants, including evergreens. Also, its population goes through cycles of abundance that can lead to outbreaks. During an outbreak gypsy moth caterpillars can strip entire forests of its leaves. While a healthy tree can typically survive a single instance of defoliation, weak or stressed trees can be killed in a short period of time.
Like other invasive species, such as the Asian carp, Japanese beetle and emerald ash borer, the gypsy moth was brought to the United States with a specific purpose in mind. An American professor brought the gypsy moth to Massachusetts in 1868 in an effort to breed a hardy silk worm. However, a few gypsy moths escaped, made their way to the south and west, infesting 19 states and Washington, DC in the process.
The gypsy moth first appeared in eastern Wisconsin counties in the mid-1970’s and by 1989 had settled in Eastern Wisconsin from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Since that time, the gypsy moth has made its way west and is moving into counties in Western Wisconsin. Gypsy moth eggs begin to hatch in late April and early May and aerial sprays are performed when the caterpillars are very small and especially vulnerable to bacterial insecticide.
These aerial sprays are one way we can slow the spread of the gypsy moth into our Western Wisconsin communities. Spraying can start as early as sunrise and as weather conditions allow until the spray plan is complete. Spraying requires calm winds, high humidity and no precipitation. The planes fly low, just above the tree tops and are loud. The planes will apply one of two biological insecticides, Foray 48B and Gypchek, depending on the site.
Foray 48B is approved for use in certified organic production or food processing by the Organic Materials Review Institute. The insecticide contains Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki or Btk. Btk is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that is poisonous to gypsy moth caterpillars when consumed. Gypchek consists of dead, crushed-up gypsy moth caterpillars infected with the nucleopolyhedrosis virus that is specific to gypsy moth caterpillars. Please note that spraying these insecticides does not affect organic certification. People who are uncomfortable or have allergies may wish to stay indoors or leave the area until the spraying is done. Pets or livestock may be startled by the noise of the low-flying planes, so keep them indoors or keep a close eye on them. Most sites will receive a second application of Btk and Gypchek about three to five days after the first application.
Spray updates will be available as a recorded message on the toll-free hotline 1-800-642-6684, press 1. You also can get instant updates by connecting with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/widatcphttp://twitter.com/widatcp) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/widatcphttp://www.facebook.com/widatcp). For more information, go to the website http://gypsymoth.wi.gov/http://gypsymoth.wi.gov or e-mail email@example.com.