ANF announces draft decision for Spongy Moth suppression treatments

The Allegheny National Forest has a plan for dealing with spongy moth infestations.

The plan calls for several new options to be added to the previously-approved bacterial pesticide.

“We previously authorized the use of Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies Kurstaki to suppress spongy moth populations,” according to a release from ANF Public Affairs Officer Christopher Leeser. “Our draft decision proposes to expand the range of approved treatment methods to include tebufenozide, Gypchek, and a protocol for approving the use of other methods in the future.”

Spongy moth “is a non-native invasive species from Europe that has been in Pennsylvania since 1932,” Leeser said. “When spongy moth populations are high, large quantities of foliage are consumed to the point where forested areas may become defoliated. Although most healthy trees will grow new leaves after defoliation occurs, some trees weakened by other stressors may not withstand severe defoliation.”

The treatments are not expected to be needed right away.

“Due to high spongy moth populations, suppression treatments occurred on nearly 15,000 acres in 2020 and 2021,” he said. “Since spongy moth populations appear to be declining, we do not anticipate needing to conduct suppression activities next year. As a result, the treatment methods listed in our draft decision would only be applied in future years on an as-needed basis.”

Objections to the draft decision may be filed for the next 40 days. Project documents may be found by visiting https://www.fs.usda.gov/?project/?project=61480.

“A final decision on the project, and whether to approve the additional treatment methods proposed, will be made later this year,” Leeser said.


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