The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) is proposing aerial treatment of approximately 3,777 acres in Grant and Preston Counties for gypsy moth through the Cooperative State-County-Landowner (CSCL) Suppression Program.
“This treatment program helps to safeguard our state’s private and commercial forest resources, all of which are vital components of our state’s economy,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick.
“The gypsy moth is the most serious forest pest in West Virginia,” added Quentin “Butch” Sayers, Assistant Director of WVDA’s Plant Industries Division. “It’s a non-native, invasive insect that feeds on more than 500 species of trees and shrubs, including West Virginia hardwoods. Defoliation by gypsy moth caterpillars can kill trees, or weaken them substantially, making them more susceptible to other pests and diseases.”
The young gypsy moth caterpillars are spread by the wind, which catches the silken threads they exude. Movement by this mechanism tends to be slow. Humans have sped the process up considerably by unwittingly transporting gypsy moth egg masses or caterpillars on loads of firewood, RVs, campers and other vehicles. Owners of RVs and campers should thoroughly inspect and wash their equipment before and after moving it.
Sayers also cautioned against moving firewood into or out of the state because pests such as the gypsy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, emerald ash borer and other non-native invasive insects may be in or on the wood.
“Non-native pests such as these can have potentially devastating economic effects because they can move into areas with few natural predators,” said Sayers. “Even with all the precautions we take, gypsy moth will likely continue to spread, but we can help slow down the advance considerably and save many trees.”
Landowners within the CSCL Program area contacted WVDA to have their properties surveyed to determine if gypsy moth population densities were high enough to produce possible tree mortality, defoliation or a significant nuisance in the spring of 2013.
Qualifying property owners could then contract with WVDA to provide treatment services, which should occur sometime in mid-May depending on weather and insect development conditions. Landowners who request surveys are not obligated to enter a treatment contract, a portion of which must be paid by the landowner. Owners may also choose one of two spray materials this year, “Btk” or “Mimic.”
These materials are all labeled by the EPA for the treatment of gypsy moths and safe for use over residential areas. The WVDA consulted with the WV Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Biologist and United States Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Services concerning the presence of rare, threatened or endangered species issues in the proposed treatment areas. Both agencies concurred that no impacts to any rare, threatened or endangered species are anticipated.
The WVDA will immediately begin solicitation of public comment on the areas proposed for treatment to reduce the devastating effect on West Virginia’s forest by the gypsy moths. The WVDA will use this input to identify any significant issues related to the proposed project and to develop a range of alternatives. Any comments or interest in this proposed project should be submit in writing to Quentin “Butch” Sayers, Plant Industries Assistant Director, P.O. Box 9, New Creek, WV 26743 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than March 15, 2013.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs, as mandated by state law. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials in West Virginia. For more information, visit www.wvagriculture.org.