Low flying airplanes may be heard and seen by residents of Allamakee and Jackson County next week. The planes will be releasing a mating disruptor to control gypsy moths, an invasive pest that is destructive to trees and shrubs. The product is made of food-grade materials and is not harmful to people, animals, birds, plants or other insects.
Aerial treatments will cover approximately 11,021 acres. In Allamakee County, the treatment will focus on a 691-acre rural area southeast of Dorchester. Treatment in Jackson County includes two rural areas west and northwest of Bellevue totaling 10,330 acres. Treatments are scheduled to begin early morning on June 26 and be completed by midday, weather permitting. Landowners in the surrounding areas will be notified of the aerial treatment through direct mailing.
The mating disruptor treatment does not kill the moth. It disrupts the mating process by confusing the male moth as it searches for a female mate. The organic-certified, food-grade substance is dispersed over the tree canopy as small, waxy droplets that slowly release a synthetic gypsy moth mating pheromone.
“Survey trapping last summer identified these three areas as places where gypsy moth has potentially established new infestations,” said Mike Kintner, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Emerald Ash Borer and Gypsy Moth Coordinator. “Mating disruption treatment is commonly used to control gypsy moth in areas where populations are low or just starting to build for the first time.”
The treatment is being conducted in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the USDA Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Program. Iowa is among a number of states that take part in the national Slow the Spread Program that monitors and treats isolated populations to slow the gypsy moth’s advancement into uninfested regions of the country. Program information can be found at gmsts.org.
The gypsy moth is a non-native pest. The caterpillars can defoliate more than 300 species of trees and shrubs and are especially fond of oaks. If left unchecked, gypsy moth infestations can grow rapidly. Without corrective action, repeated defoliation can weaken trees making them vulnerable to attack by diseases and other insects or lead to tree death.
For more information on the gypsy moth, including maps of the treatment areas, please visit iowagypsymoth.com. Area citizens can also visit this website or listen to a pre-recorded message by calling the Iowa Gypsy Moth Hotline at 1-855-497-7966 for the most current treatment date.