The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will soon treat gypsy moth infestations in Granville and Warren counties.
The treatments are anticipated to occur between April 5 and April 25, depending on weather conditions and insect development. Two fine-mist applications of the biological pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki, or Bt(k), will be made four to 10 days apart. Treatments will be accomplished using low-flying helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft.
The proposed 922-acre treatment block in north-central Granville County is located about 15 miles from Stovall. The block is primarily rural, dominated by large expanses of uninhabited woodlands, but also contains some farm fields in cultivation.
The proposed 1,285-acre treatment block in Warren County is located about 10 miles southeast of Warrenton. The block is primarily rural, dominated by large expanses of uninhabited woodlands. It includes a portion of the Embro Gamelands along Fishing Creek.
Bt(k) is not harmful to humans or animals; Bt(k) is harmful only to caterpillars that consume it. For people with severe allergic tendencies, Bt(k) may cause a temporary allergic reaction. Such persons are advised to stay indoors during treatments.
Field monitoring activities conducted by NCDA&CS last year determined that a reproducing population of the highly destructive gypsy moth exists in both counties and represents a threat to hardwood trees. Public hearings were held earlier in the year to receive input from landowners and other interested parties.
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 treatment will be done in collaboration with the Gypsy Moth Slow-the-Spread Foundation, Inc., a cooperative effort with 10 other states and the U.S. Forest Service.
For more information, including maps and a description of the proposed treatment area, go to www.ncagr.com/gypsymoth or contact NCDA&CS toll free at 1-800-206-9333. For more immediate updates, including spray start dates, follow the department on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NCAgriculture.