The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is planning to treat two areas in the Twin Cities metro area, one in the Lakeville area and another in Stillwater, to eradicate gypsy moth infestations detected in those areas last fall. Officials plan to conduct the aerial treatments on Thursday, May 23, starting as early as 5:15 a.m. The Stillwater area will be treated first. This is dependent on weather conditions at the time.
This is the first of two aerial applications of Foray/Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) over each of the areas. The second will take place in 5-10 days. Btk is a biological product that is certified organic for food crops. It has no known health effects for humans, pets, birds, fish, livestock, bees, and other non-caterpillar insects.
To help area citizens stay informed, the MDA has set up an Arrest the Pest Info Line at 1-888-545-MOTH with the latest details about treatment dates and times. On the morning of the treatments, residents can call the phone number with any questions they may have. Simply press 0 (zero) to speak to someone. The MDA's website also has information about gypsy moths and control efforts, and residents can sign up for email or text updates about treatment progress. 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, up to a half mile outside of the treatment area, may be awakened on that day by the noise of a low-flying airplane. The MDA apologizes for any inconvenience.
- The treatment product has no known health effects for humans, but residents may wish to stay indoors during the treatment and keep windows closed for a half hour after application. Residents can cover gardens or turn on sprinklers during the treatment if they wish.
- The residue does not cause damage to outdoor surfaces. However, soapy water will remove any residue on outdoor items.
Lakeville: A 133 acre area in Lakeville and Scott County’s Credit River Township that runs along the western border of Lakeville and straddles Judicial Road (the county boundary). The majority of the treatment block (106 acres) is located in Lakeville with the remaining 27 acres in Credit River Township.
Stillwater: A 633 area in the southwest corner of the city approximately from Highway 36 on the south to 75th Street North on the north, and Manning Avenue on the west to Stillwater Boulevard and Olive Street West on the east.
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