State's Gypsy Moth Aerial Spray Program Completed - Southern Maryland Headline News

State's Gypsy Moth Aerial Spray Program Completed

Property Owners Encouraged to Report Egg Masses, Caterpillars, and Defoliation

ANNAPOLIS (May 30, 2009) – The Maryland Department of Agriculture completed its aerial spray program on Friday, May 22, treating trees on approximately 33,000 acres of land in 14 counties and Baltimore City to prevent forest defoliation caused by the gypsy moth. Spraying began in early May on the Eastern Shore and moved west ending just before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The total acreage treated by jurisdiction was: Allegany (1,129 acres), Anne Arundel (805), Baltimore (3,936), Carroll (609), Cecil (3,767), Charles (36), Frederick (11,621), Garrett (107), Harford (1,096), Howard (1,086), Montgomery (319), Talbot (343), Washington (7,279), and Worcester (399) counties and Baltimore City (179).

“Now that we have completed the treatment program, MDA entomologists and field inspectors will begin looking for egg masses later this summer to determine if and where infestations may occur next year,” said Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “We encourage property owners and residents to report the presence of any gypsy moth caterpillars, egg masses, or defoliation so that our assessment of any future infestations as well as our planning for next year’s suppression program is as thorough as possible.”

In late June or early July, the gypsy moth female lays about a thousand eggs in a single mass. Gypsy moth egg masses are about the size of a quarter, are oval, raised in the center and are tan to light brown in color. Because the female moth deposits hairs and scales from her body in the mass, it appears slightly fuzzy. The mass adheres to the surface on which it was laid - it is not in a web, tent or bag. The egg mass will remain where the female laid it until the following spring when the tiny caterpillars hatch.

Look for egg masses in shaded, “protected” places such as the underside of tree limbs, crevices in tree bark, ivy covered tree trunks and buildings, the underside of lawn furniture, inside the wheel wells of campers and trailers, under the eaves of houses and storage buildings, and on the foundations of houses. They also like woodpiles and the inside of birdhouses!

The gypsy moth is by far the most destructive pest of forest and shade trees in Maryland. The caterpillars eat the leaves of oaks and other hardwoods from late April through June. Through a combination of weather and an unpredicted rebound of gypsy moth populations, Maryland is seeing the highest levels of infestations since 1995.

For more information about gypsy moths, the Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program and learn what homeowners can do pro-actively to prevent gypsy moth damage on their properties, log onto Residents also can get information or report egg masses, caterpillars or defoliation, by calling the MDA at 410-841-5922 or a regional field office (Central Maryland, 301-662-2074; Eastern Shore, 410-479-2047; Northeast Maryland, 410-879-8034; Southern Maryland, 301-782-7155; Western Maryland, 301-777-3601).

Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture

Gypsy Moth Background

Caterpillars eat the leaves of oaks and other hardwoods from late April through June. Heavy populations of caterpillars will eat most or all leaves on a tree, potentially killing it. The first defoliation in Maryland occurred in 1980. Since 1980, gypsy moth caterpillars have defoliated well over 1 million acres of valuable timber and residential trees in Maryland. Between 1982 and 2008, MDA sprayed the trees on over 1.9 million acres statewide with an average effectiveness rate of over 98 percent. In 2004, only 660 acres were treated and none were treated in 2005. In 2006, populations increased and 25,454 acres were treated. In 2007, 50,173 acres were treated in 11 counties. Last year, an explosion of gypsy moth populations caused over 99,000 acres in 13 counties and Baltimore City to need treatment. All property owners in treatment areas, as well as those in surrounding areas, were notified prior to the beginning of each year’s program.

The Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program is a partnership between MDA, the USDA Forest Service, local jurisdictions and landowners. An Integrated Pest Management approach is used; beginning with extensive pest population surveys targeted at susceptible high value rural and urban forested areas of Maryland.

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