The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is preparing to treat four areas in or near Cloquet, Duluth, Ely, and Two Harbors to eradicate gypsy moth infestations detected in those areas last fall. Officials will conduct the treatments starting sometime between June 4 and June 15, with the exact dates determined by weather conditions and caterpillar development.
To eradicate the moths before they spread, officials will conduct two aerial applications of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) over each of the areas, spaced 7-10 days apart. Btk is a biological product that is organic certified for food crops. It has no known health effects for humans, pets, birds, fish, livestock, bees, and other insects.
To help area citizens stay informed, the MDA has set up an Arrest the Pest Info Line at 1-888-545-MOTH. The info line will offer the latest details about treatment dates and times. The MDA's website also has information about gypsy moths and control efforts. Residents can sign up for email or text notifications there. Finally, the MDA offers the following tips to residents in the treatment area:
- For the gypsy moth treatment to work, it must begin early in the morning. Treatments may begin as early as 5:15 a.m. Residents in and around these treatment areas may be awakened on that day by the noise of the low-flying airplane. The MDA apologizes for any inconvenience;
- The treatment product has no known health effects for humans, but to avoid it residents may wish to stay indoors during the treatment and keep windows closed for a half hour after application; and,
- The residue does not cause damage to outdoor surfaces. However, soapy water will remove any residue on outdoor items.
Cloquet: A 460 acre area that runs north of MN Highway 45 up to Pearl and State streets.
Duluth: A 352 area in the Lakeside Neighborhood that begins approximately at Oneida Street on the south and North 52nd Avenue East on the east and extends northwest past Skyline Drive.
White Iron Lake, rural Ely: A 77 acre area on White Iron Lake near the intersections of Shady Rest Road and Big Rock Drive.
Two Harbors: A 526 acre area that is centered on the intersection of Shoreview Road and 7th Avenue.
Gypsy moths are among America's most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage to Eastern forests. The moths are now threatening Minnesota. If present in large numbers, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest. Oak, poplar, birch and willow are among their preferred hosts. The moths spread slowly on their own, but people can unintentionally help them spread by transporting firewood or other items on which the moths have laid their eggs.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications