Gypsy moth spraying begun in Garrett

Sarah Moses, Cumberland Times News

Gypsy moth spraying has begun in Garrett County, but wet weather may delay its completion.

"Some spraying went on by both the (state) Department of Agriculture and the private contractors through our cost-share program," Willie Lantz, Maryland Cooperative Extension agriculture and natural resources educator, told the county commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. "Originally, they thought they would be done by this week, but it might be pushed back into next week."

He said the delay might benefit spraying, as many of the oak leaves are not fully out yet and oak is the tree of choice for the seasonal pest. The pesticides must be sprayed on leaves, where it is picked up by the caterpillars, and he said the delay might give the oak leaves time to grow.

The total spraying will cover more than 42,000 acres with both the cost-share program and the state spraying.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture is investing about $1 million in the suppression efforts in Garrett County alone.

The Cooperative Extension, Lantz said, is also looking for signs of the moth's natural enemy, the fungus Entomophaga maimaiga. Because it has been a wetter spring than in previous years, there is a better chance the fungus will help reduce the gypsy moth population.

He said they will be checking specifically in areas not sprayed with the BT or dimilin to see if they find the caterpillars killed by the fungus. He said it kills them in a very specific way, but its effect is easier to recognize in areas not sprayed.

Commissioner Fred Holliday asked about another pest that could be making its way to the area, the emerald ash borer. He questioned if it is something to worry about in the future.

This green beetle will eat ash tree foliage, but cause little damage. The larvae feed on the inner bark of the ash trees, which affects the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients.

It first appeared in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002 and moved southward to Maryland by 2006. Lantz said that triangular purple boxes throughout the county are to help analyze the possible infestation in the area. These boxes, he explained, have the scent of a distressed ash tree and would attract the insects and give a better count of whether they are in the area and how severe an infestation it might be.

"Some say that they are already here, but I don't know if that's true," Lantz said. He said they come in, most often, on firewood being brought in from other states. Lantz added that bringing in the wood from other states is illegal, though that is not very well-known or heavily enforced.

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