DATCP: Gypsy moth treatments proposed for 22 counties, public meetings set

Contact: Nkauj (pronounced ‘gow’) Vang, 608-224-4591, [email protected]

MADISON—Yellow planes will be a familiar sight in some counties this spring and summer, while in others, it will make an appearance for the first time.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Program proposes to aerially treat 22 counties covering approximately 254,166 acres this year to help control the spread of the destructive forest pest, the gypsy moth. This plan is separate from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Suppression Program.

The counties are Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jackson, La Crosse, Lafayette, Polk, Price, Richland, Rusk, Sawyer, Trempealeau, Vernon and Washburn.

“The gypsy moth is a serious pest that threatens our forests and urban trees, and it can have a negative impact on Wisconsin’s timber, paper, nursery and tourism industries. If the gypsy moths aren’t controlled, it’ll be very unpleasant to see defoliated trees and thousands of caterpillars crawling around in the spring and early summer,” said Chris Lettau, gypsy moth program coordinator.

Five public meetings will be held in March for citizens to learn about the program and gypsy moths, ask questions and comment on the proposed treatment plan. Maps of areas considered for treatment will be available.

The public meetings are scheduled as follows:

Madison: Tuesday, March 8, at the WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 2811 Agriculture Drive, Room 231, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Richland Center: Wednesday, March 9, at the Richland County Courthouse, 181 W. Seminary St., County Board Room, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Altoona: Tuesday, March 15, at the Eau Claire County UW-Extension, 227 First St. W., Room 103, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Hayward: Wednesday, March 16, at the Sherman & Ruth Weiss Community Library, 10788 State Hwy 27/77, Community Meeting Room, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Superior: Thursday, March 17, at the Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Ave., Meeting Room, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Aerial treatments will start in May when the caterpillars begin to emerge and may last through late July or early August. Some sites will be treated once or twice with Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki or Btk, a naturally occurring soil bacterium that has been successfully used in gypsy moth treatments for more than 30 years. Other sites will receive Gypchek, a product specific only to gypsy moth.

In June and July, additional sites will be treated with mating disruptant, which mimics the scent or pheromone of the female adult gypsy moth. This confuses the male gypsy moths when they’re searching for a mate and prevents reproduction.

Btk, Gypchek and mating disruptant have no known toxicity to people, animals, fish and plants. The products must be applied with an airplane to be effective.

Gypsy moth caterpillars mainly feed on the leaves of oak trees, but they also will feed on the leaves of hundreds of other species of trees and shrubs. When present in large numbers, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate trees and overcome native species.

For more information, visit the website gypsymoth.wi.gov, call the toll-free gypsy moth hotline at 1-800-642-6684, or e-mail [email protected].