The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will soon treat a localized gypsy moth infestation in Caswell, Currituck and Rockingham counties in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Foundation Inc. The treatments are anticipated to take place between June 4 and 14, depending on weather conditions and insect development.
Last summer and fall, field monitoring activities at these three locations showed that a reproducing population of the highly destructive gypsy moth exists and represents a threat to deciduous forests at the following locations:
•A 2,036-acre block in Caswell County located about five miles north of Yanceyville;
•A 514-acre block in Currituck County, including much of the Carova Beach community;
•A 422-acre block in Rockingham County located about two miles northwest of the town of Ruffin.
Treatment will focus on disrupting mating patterns. Prior to normal gypsy moth mating periods, low-altitude fixed-wing aircraft will disperse miniature plastic flakes infused with the naturally occurring gypsy moth pheromone.
The pheromone saturates the treatment block so that male gypsy moths are not able to follow the natural pheromone scent trails released by the females.This decreases mating success and reduces the gypsy moth population. The pheromone is not harmful to humans, animals or plants, and it will not affect other insect species.
Gypsy moths feed on the leaves of more than 300 different species of trees and shrubs, predominantly hardwoods. When areas become heavily infested, trees may be completely stripped of foliage, leaving yard trees and entire forests more susceptible to attacks from other pests. Severe infestations often lead to tree death, especially of the more favored host species such as oaks.
Gypsy moth caterpillars can also pose health concerns for people with respiratory problems. The caterpillar hairs and droppings may cause severe allergic reactions in areas with a high density of gypsy moths.
NCDA&CS has addressed spot introductions of the gypsy moth across North Carolina since the 1970s. The department is working with 10 other states through the Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Foundation Inc., and with other state and federal agencies to reduce the spread of the gypsy moth into uninfected areas in North Carolina.
Public hearings were held prior to the scheduled aerial treatment to receive input from landowners in and near the treatment block.
For more information, including maps and a description of the proposed treatment areas, go to http://www.ncagr.com/gypsymoth/ or contact NCDA&CS toll free at 800-206-9333.