The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is preparing to treat a part of the city of Chisholm to eradicate a gypsy moth infestation detected in the area last fall. Officials will conduct the treatments sometime between now and June 17, 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 Foray/Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) over each of the areas, spaced 5-10 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 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. The info line will offer the latest details about treatment dates and times. The MDA's website also has information about gypsy moth 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 a.m. Residents in and around these treatment areas 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.
Treatment area: A 135-acre area located east of Longyear Lake in the eastern portion of Chisholm.
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