WAPAKONETA — Open houses are being held locally the next week for residents with questions about addressing ecological problems with gypsy moths. The first open house took place in Auglaize County on Wednesday.
Gypsy moth program manager David Adkins said while problems with the insect have not yet reached epidemic stage, they want to ensure that things stay that way.
“We are aggressive with stopping the spread,” Adkins said. “These moths can have a serious effect on local foilage.”
Gypsy moths grow in three stages, the larvae, pupa and the adult. The larvae stage is where they tend to be the most destructive, when they eat the foliage on local trees.
While they affect more than 300 species of trees, they are particularly destructive on oaks. A three-year infestation can leave 90 percent of oak trees dead or dying. A three-year infestation averages about a 48 percent mortality rate with other species affected by the insect.
Adkins said that two areas had been marked for treatment in Auglaize County, a 344 acre space of land near Uniopolis and a 177 acre space near Cridersville.
Other local areas slated for treatment include 457 acres near Celina, 934 acres at Kendrick Woods, a large space of about 3,678 acres near Harrod, and 163 acres near Beaverdam. Adkins said public open houses would also be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Allen County Fairgrounds and at the Mercer County OSU Extension office in Celina. Other local county open houses will be held at the Hancock County OSU Extension in Findlay on Tuesday and the Ottawa Fire Department in Putnam County on Wednesday.
Adkins said the areas are considered for treatment based by the number of gypsy moths that get trapped in a designated period. Gypsy moth females produce between 500 and 1,000 eggs and release a pheromone to attract males to fertilize them. An altered version of the pheromone is produced for treatment and released in the treatment area, which confuses the males and usually leaves female eggs unfertilized.
Gypsy moths are not native to the United States. They were transported here in 1869 to cross-breed with silk worms to strengthen them. A storm destroyed the building where the cross-breading was taking place soon after to begin their destructive spread across the United States.