Next on Today’s topic, our weekly visit with N0rth Carolina’s Ag commissioner, Steve Troxler. Commissioner, a couple weeks ago we talked about the importance of local firewood and how it can help prevent the spread of certain insects that are harmful to trees. There is another pest the department has been battling, let’s talk about that.
“We’ve been dealing with the gypsy moth in counties across North Carolina since the 1970’s. We work with nine other states during the gypsy moth slow the spread foundation to reduce the expansion of this insect into areas that haven’t been affected.”
Now these moths are highly destructive.
“Well they are, the caterpillars feeding on the leaves of hundreds of plant species, mainly hardwood trees. In areas with a heavy infestation, trees can be stripped of foliage which can make entire forests more susceptible to other pests. I have 29 Oak trees in my yard and I have a harrow of gypsy moths coming in , removing all the foliage from my Oak trees. We are pretty vigilant about the spread of gypsy moths.
And it can happen in the blink of an eye too.
“It really can, but we do have an extensive monitoring program for gypsy moths. The Planned industry division sets up traps to determine where gypsy moths are located and we use several methods for dealing infestations and these include a biological pesticide and a pheromone that disrupts the moth’s mating practices.
You know there are a lot of operations that go on in the spring really trying to head off this moth.
“Our planned industry is planning 13 operations in the spring and we are going to be holding a series of public meetings around the state in January and February to talk about these plans. One of the things we want to do is to keep the public informed so they’re not surprised when they see us carrying out one of these operations.”
Let’s talk about what else this gypsy moth can do in addition to harming trees.
“Well you know there are people that actually have an allergy to the caterpillar’s little tiny hairs. So if we keep the insect away from the homes and people then we are actually doing a public health service too.”
Absolutely. If we want to learn more about the insect itself or learn more about one of the meetings coming up in January and February, what do we need to do?
“Well the information is available online at ncagr.gov/plantindustry and you click on the planned protection section link for that information.”
All right, that’s going to wrap up our weekly visit with North Carolina’s Ag Commissioner, Steve Troxler.