Gypsy Moth Treatment Set to Begin Around Ohio

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ATHENS (WOUB) — Ohio officials are hoping to see less gypsy moths in the the region this summer.

According to a release from the Ohio Department of Agriculture the state will begin aerial treatments June 12th covering more than 60,000 acres in 12 counties across Ohio.  Low-flying airplanes approximately 100 feet above treetops and buildings will spray female gypsy moth pheromones in an effort to limit reproduction, the release stated. Gypsy moths are a non-native invasive species, and according to Ohio State University professor of urban landscape entomology David Shetlar, they feed on a number of different plants.

“The gypsy moth is primarily a feeder on deciduous trees, its favorite hosts are oak trees,” says Shetlar.  “They’ll also eat many other types of trees, and when they get to be larger larvae they’ll actually eat some of the conifer needles, and so they’ve been known to attack and kill things like white pines along with some of the spruces and firs.”

The goal behind the treatment is to limit the spread of gypsy moths.

“If we permeate the entire environment with the pheromone,” says Shetlar. “The male says ‘okay I’m here, I smell her, she’s here, where is she?’ And it basically masks the actual females who are releasing their pheromones by having the synthetic pheromone out there, it means that the male can’t find the female.”

According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the pheromone treatment is completely organic and poses no threats to humans or wildlife.