2012-05-12 / Front Page

Gypsy moth caterpillars likely to bug us again this year

Egg mass survey results per acre: red- 520-800; blue- 340- 410; and green- 40-200 Egg mass survey results per acre: red- 520-800; blue- 340- 410; and green- 40-200 Gypsy moth caterpillars will likely be munching away at local foliage with reckless abandon this year.

State offificials report that the cyclical population of the persistent pest is in its upward spike this year. Egg mass counts show that a section of northern Cameron County and southern Potter County could see extensive defoliation. Signifificant populations have also been found on primarily state forest and in southeastern Potter County and a section of northcentral Potter County.

At this point, there are no plans for state funding to support gypsy moth caterpillar suppression programs on private land. Spraying of state land will depend on several factors— whether there are critical or unique habitats, past gypsy moth impacts and fifinancial values of timber stands.

Previous gypsy moth attacks caused changes in Pennsylvania’s forests from mixed oak to birch and maple. There was a major impact on some wildlife populations. In the 1940s, after blight nearly wiped out American chestnuts, oaks had fifilled the void for wildlife.

If the state does conduct aerial spraying, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will be applied. Caterpillars ingest the bacteria when they emerge and feed on foliage. Bt only affects leaf-eating caterpillars that are in the larval stage at the time of spraying.

DCNR advises property owners who are concerned about gypsy moth defoliation to contact district foresty offifices in Coudersport (274-3600) or Emporium (486-3353).

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