Indiana DNR to spray in 3 counties for invasive gypsy moths

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FILE – In this June 12, 2007 file photo, a gypsy moth caterpillar walks along partially eaten leaves of a tree in Trenton, N.J. The gypsy moth, discovered in 1869 in Boston, is found in 20 states as of 2016, and has reached the northern Great Lakes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The scourge of insect pests is expected to put almost two-thirds of America’s forests at risk over the next decade. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, 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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