HARRISBURG – The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has developed an interactive, web-based map enabling users to track progress of gypsy moth spraying operations across the state.
“This new website will enable visitors to zoom into their county and township to determine if treatments are planned, in progress or have been completed,” DCNR Secretary Richard Allan said. “Information will be updated overnight on a daily basis during spray operations.”
Woodland spraying using four helicopters is expected to begin later this week and continue through much of May in the northwest and north central areas of the state. DCNR last sprayed to suppress gypsy moths in 2009.
“Our bureau often receives queries from residents and landowners unfamiliar with these aerial operations. Others seek progress reports,” Allan noted. “This new web map enables viewers to chart the helicopters’ progress each day.”
A cooperative effort of DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry and Division of Geographic Information Systems, the new web map can be found here.
This spring 41,834 acres of state forestland, state parkland, Pennsylvania Game Commission, and federal land will be treated in Cameron, Clarion, Forest, Jefferson, Lycoming, Potter, Tioga and Venango counties. In addition, 180 acres of private property will be sprayed in Venango County.
Tree foliage will be treated with the biological insecticide, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), comprised of naturally occurring Bacillus spores which must be ingested by the caterpillar. Spraying begins at daybreak and ends daily when weather conditions are unsuitable for further treatment.
Selection of woodlands to be sprayed this spring was determined by the number and concentration of gypsy moth egg masses found, previous defoliation, and ecological, historic or economic significance.
“Private woodland owners and state forest visitors must remember spraying is a suppression effort, a forest management effort to protect trees from moderate to severe defoliation,” Allan said.
Forestry bureau experts identify the gypsy moth as one of the most destructive forest pests in Pennsylvania. The insect hatches and begins feeding from mid- to late-April in southern Pennsylvania, and in early- to mid-May in the northern part of the state.
Oak, apple, sweet gum, basswood, birch, poplar and willow trees are affected most by the gypsy moth. Older larvae also will feed on hemlock, pines, spruces, southern white cedar and other conifers.
The insects may strip trees of foliage, leaving them weakened and susceptible to disease, drought and attack by other insects. A tree begins to suffer when 30 percent or more of its leaf surface is lost.
Forest insect spraying programs began in 1972, a cooperative effort among DCNR, county governments and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Forest Health Protection Unit. County governments share the cost of treating private residential and local government-owned lands for gypsy moth suppression.
The gypsy moth was introduced to North America in 1869 at Medford, Mass., where it was used in a silk-production experiment. The gypsy moth first reached Pennsylvania in Luzerne County in 1932, and since then has infested every county.
Homeowners and other private property owners can learn more about the gypsy moth, the damage it causes, and small-scale efforts to combat it at www.dcnr.state.pa.us (click on “Forestry,” then “Insects and Disease” at upper left).