Moth spraying set for coming weeks

Times Observer file photo Spraying on both private and public lands in Warren County will be undertaken as soon as next week to combat this pest, the spongy moth.

As the forest greens up, the battle against the spongy moth is about to pick up.

Both public and private forest land will be sprayed in the coming weeks in the county to stay ahead of the pest formerly known as the gypsy moth.

On the private side, officials with Generations Forestry Inc. said that forest in the Scandia area as well as Glade, Elk and Pleasant townships could be sprayed as soon as next week.

“Gypsy/spongy moth egg mass surveys have caused concern for forest health, due to expected defoliation predictors,” the company said in a statement.

“The public can expect to observe low flying agricultural aircraft in these areas” spraying an EPA-approved pesticide. “The spray program will commence when weather, insect development and foliate development are suitable for application and efficiency sometime after May 19, 2022.”

On the public side, a joint effort of the Pa. Department of Conservation and Natural Resources along with the Allegheny National Forest will result in nearly 12,000 acres of spraying on the ANF over the last two week of May and the first week of June.

“Specific dates of operation over the national forest cannot be determined because operations are weather-dependent and to achieve maximum results are based on the stages of caterpillar development,” according to a statement from the ANF.

“Our best estimate is that treatments could begin as early as Saturday, May 21.”

Federal officials say the updated information will be pushed via social media as well as the DCNR’s interactive map.

“Most treatments will occur in little-visited, heavily forested areas,” they say. “Some public recreation areas including, Jakes Rocks Mountain Bike Trail, Morrison Hiking Trail, Tracy Ridge Hiking Trail, and Tracy Ridge Campground will also be treated.

Signage will be posted at trailheads and recreation sites on the day of the treatment and Forest Service staff will be on hand to answer questions. Kinzua Beach may be used as a landing zone but will not necessitate the closure of the site.

“Treatments are focused on oak forest types that were heavily defoliated in 2021 and where high spongy moth egg mass counts have been recorded, which indicates a high likelihood of defoliation this year,” federal officials say. “Two consecutive defoliations on oak trees may result in tree death and decline. This year noticeable defoliation is expected in the Allegheny National Forest where treatments are not occurring.”

Formerly known as the Gypsy Moth, the Entomological Society of America changed the name due to the word “gypsy being a widely acknowledged ethnic slur and the subsequent dehumanizing effects when used as a common name,” the ANF said.


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