March 3, 2004

Media contact: Melanie Wilt, ODA Communications, 614-752-9817


Gypsy Moth Treatment Planned for Franklin County


REYNOLDSBURG – The Ohio Department of Agriculture will target an area in Franklin County for a gypsy moth treatment designed to slow the spread of this destructive insect. The treatment area includes 4,125 acres in the Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park area. To help educate local residents about the treatment program, ODA will host an open house where residents can talk directly with the department's plant pest control staff and view displays about the moth and maps of local treatment sites.


Date                           Time*                           Open House Location

March 11                       6-9 p.m.                      Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park, Cedar Ridge Lodge

                                                                                                  (From I-270, take the W. Broad St./U.S. 40 exit west. Go about 5 miles on Broad St.                                                                                                      and turn left on Darby-Creek Dr. Entrance is about 3 miles on right.)

 * This is an open house-style meeting, so residents are welcome any time during the hours listed.


In this area, ODA will use a pheromone flake specific to the gypsy moth to disrupt mating. The treatment is not harmful to humans, pets, birds, or fish.


This year, the areas to be treated across the state include: 275 acres in Allen County; 250 acres in Butler County; 2,800 acres in Clark County; 275 acres in Champaign County; 4,125 acres in Franklin County; 5,350 acres in Gallia County; 1,875 acres in Greene County; 250 acres in Hardin County; 12,175 acres in Jackson County; 325 acres in Pickaway County; 22,025 acres in Pike County including 575 acres of Pike State Forest; 1,100 acres in Paulding County; 325 acres in Putnam County; 17,325 acres in Ross County; and 18,250 acres in Vinton County.


The gypsy moth is a non-native, invasive species that has been advancing into Ohio from Pennsylvania and Michigan over the last several years. In its caterpillar stage, it feeds on the leaves of trees and shrubs and is especially fond of oak. A healthy tree can usually withstand only two years of defoliation before it is permanently damaged or dies.


The agriculture department operates two programs aimed at managing the gypsy moth in Ohio – the “Suppression” program in counties where the pest is established and the “Slow-the-Spread” program in counties not yet infested by the moth. This May, the suppression program will coordinate aerial treatments of 325 wooded areas in Lucas County at the request of residents. This program is voluntary. To date, 43 of Ohio's 88 counties have established gypsy moth populations.


The focus of the “Slow-the-Spread” program, as implemented in the above counties, is to detect and eradicate isolated populations which helps slow the gypsy moths' movement across the remaining half of Ohio.


Another result of the gypsy moth's march across Ohio is isolated outbreaks outside infested counties, like in the areas to be treated in southern and southwest Ohio. In these Slow-the-Spread areas, ODA will use pheromone flakes to change the behavior of the adult moth. Pheromones are chemicals produced by insects to communicate. The pheromone is incorporated into plastic laminated flakes that are mixed with a sticking agent and released from an airplane. The flakes are green and are approximately the size of this character: –. The sticking agent is not strong, but will ensure the pheromone is distributed at all levels in the forest where gypsy moths may live. If the flakes land on cars or patio furniture, they can easily be wiped or washed off.


Once the flakes are released, they saturate the air in the treated area with the pheromone for 2 to 3 months, disrupting the communication between the female and male gypsy moth. The pheromone flake release in mid June is timed to correspond with the male gypsy moth's flight, preventing him from finding the flightless female and mating.