In the late 1860s, French scientist Étienne Trouvelot brought over a seemingly harmless insect from Europe called the gypsy moth to conduct breeding experiments with American moths. When they escaped his backyard and entered into an ecosystem without their native predators, their population exploded. 150 years later, these moths are still a destructive forest pest in Indiana and other states. Every year an effort is made to attempt to curb their population. This year, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will continue the fight to save our forests from these invasive insects.
Phase one consists of a crop dusting of bacterial chemical spray over the gypsy moth catepillars’ food sources. This spray is harmless to humans and native wildlife, but is lethal to the caterpillars. Later in the summer, a pheromone will be dispersed over the moths, disrupting the mating process and causing fatal exhaustion.
This huge undertaking isn’t estimated to stop the gypsy moth – in fact, state entomologists don’t see an end in sight. We can only continue to manage this forest pest and aim for reducing populations to a level where local predators can manage them on their own. Indiana citizens can help combat this pest by understanding the gypsy moth problem and learning about its management.
For more information and when the aerial treatments will be conducted in your county visit the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, 2017 Indiana Gypsy Moth Treatment Program. For Tippecanoe view Purdue News.