The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (L.), is one of the most notorious and destructive insect pests threatening Ohio’s hardwood forests and ornamental landscape plants. Recent trapping by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) indicated a growing population of gypsy moths in Franklin County. To combat this, the ODA will be conducting aerial treatments designed to disrupt gypsy moth mating in Franklin County, including The Ohio State University campus area.
Gypsy moths are invasive insects that attack more than 300 different types of trees and shrubs, with oak being the preferred species. In its caterpillar stage, the moth feeds heavily on the leaves of trees and shrubs limiting their ability to photosynthesize. A healthy tree can usually withstand only two years of defoliation before it is permanently damaged or dies.
The first adult male moths in Ohio were trapped in 1971, in Ashtabula County. Since that time, the moth has been slowly advancing across the state, with the ODA using several treatment programs to combat the infestation. The ODA operates the Slow-the-Spread Program, which focuses on monitoring, detecting, and reducing isolated populations to slow the gypsy moth’s movement across the state through treatments.
As part of the Slow-the-Spread Program, the ODA will be using a single application of the product Disrupt II to slow the spread of the gypsy moth. This product does not kill the moth, but it disrupts the mating process by confusing the male as it searches for a female mate. Disrupt II is specific to gypsy moth and is not harmful to humans, birds, plants or pets.
A yellow airplane will fly 100-200 feet above the tree tops to apply the treatment, which is slated for June 22. For more information on the gypsy moth, including maps of treatment areas and videos of the mating disruption process, please visit http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/plant/gypsy/gypsy-index.aspx.