Aerial treatments to control gypsy moths underway in Duluth area
If you spot low-flying planes over Duluth this week, they're most likely involved in gypsy moth control efforts.
Starting Monday and possibly continuing through Friday - depending on weather - the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will conduct aerial treatments in the Duluth area - also including parts of Hermantown, Proctor, Canosia Township and Rice Lake Township. Spraying also is scheduled this week near Ely.
"MDA will use a method of mating disruption involving the aerial application of tiny flakes coated with a pheromone that confuses male gypsy moths," the agency reported in a news release. "This makes it difficult for the male gypsy moths to find females for mating, which means fewer caterpillars hatching and attacking trees next year. Application is timed just as adult moths emerge in mid-summer. Mating disruption has been widely used for gypsy moth management in other states, and successful treatments can reduce gypsy moth populations by more than 66 percent."
Treatments work best in areas where gypsy moths are present, but populations remain low, the agency said. Results from 2013 trapping surveys showed that the Duluth area had enough gypsy moths to be of concern, but populations remained low enough for the treatments to be effective.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said the gypsy moth treatment product has no known health effects for humans, and that the pheromone specifically targets male gypsy moths.
Gypsy moth caterpillars favor aspen, birch, willow and oak and can defoliate vast areas quickly, causing already stressed trees to die and reducing tree growth. Combined with drought and native pests, the foreign invader could hit some Northland trees hard.