Indiana DNR to spray in 3 counties for invasive gypsy moths

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FILE – In this July 28, 2008, file photo, a female gypsy moth lays her eggs on the trunk of a tree in the Salmon River State Forest in Hebron, Conn. Oregon agriculture officials proposes to spray about 8,000 acres over the Portland area next spring to kill leaf-eating gypsy moths. Washington state agriculture officials will decide soon whether to propose spraying a biological pesticide over 10,500 acres in Western Washington. (AP Photo/Bob Child, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State wildlife crews will begin an aerial spraying effort soon in three northern Indiana counties to combat an invasive moth that strips trees bare of foliage in its caterpillar form.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said that, weather permitting, it would begin spraying during the week of May 10 to kill gypsy moth caterpillars in selected areas of Allen, Miami and Wells counties.

That spraying effort will release particles containing a type of bacteria that’s deadly to the moth’s caterpillar-like larvae. The spraying will target treetops where those larvae feed, and all of the selected sites will receive two treatments.

If cooler weather arrives and slows the caterpillars’ emergence, the first treatment application could be delayed until the week of May 17.

Gypsy moth caterpillars are driven by their voracious appetites and they can quickly defoliate large tracts of forests. They feed on hundreds of species of trees and shrubs but prefer oak trees.

Wildlife officials say gypsy moth are one of North America’s most destructive invasive species.

The species originated in Europe and Asia, but it was accidentally introduced near Boston, Massachusetts in the late 1860s. Gypsy moths have since spread throughout the Northeast and into parts of the upper Midwest and the Great Lakes states, including Indiana.

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