The spraying will target a 47-acre area south of the city of Vermilion, near Mason and State roads, said Brett Gates, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Property owners requested the spraying. The Department of Agriculture investigated and found egg masses that showed the spraying was needed.
Gypsy Moth caterpillars can be so aggressive in gobbling up tree leaves that they can cause trees to die, Department of Agriculture officials say. Gypsy Moth caterpillars apparently are not picky eaters as they are happy to munch on more than 300 species of trees and shrubs.
There will be two aerial sprayings in early to mid-May, from an aircraft flying 50 to 100 feet above the treetops. The second application will be five to seven days after the first.
The spraying will be a biological insecticide, known commercially as Foray 48B, that’s based on a naturally-occurring bacterium that produces a toxin in the gut of caterpillars. The insecticide targets caterpillars and does not harm people, animals, birds, fish, bees and other beneficial insects.
It could be bad news, however, for other butterflies and moths in the area. The insecticide only lasts for a few days and butterflies tend to have different life cycles, so state officials hope the collateral damage for other butterflies will be small.
Residents may wish to stay indoors during the spraying, although they don’t have to, the Department of Agriculture says.
The company, which makes Foray 48B, Valent Biosciences Corp., said applicators handling the insecticide should be aware it can cause “moderate eye irritation” and should avoid having contact with their eyes or clothing.
There are more than 30 property owners in the area receiving the treatment and they will make payments to cover the cost of the spraying. The cost sharing is based on the number of acres each property owner possesses, Gates said.
Spraying for the moths has not been done before in Erie County, at least within recent history, but it has been carried out in Lorain County, Gates said.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture notified the Erie County Health Department about the planned spraying and gave health departments documents about it so that the department could answer any questions local citizens had, said Pete Schade, Erie County’s health commissioner.
MOTH SPRAYING MEETING
WHAT: Open house on Gypsy Moth spraying program.
WHEN: 6 p.m to 8 p.m., Feb. 21.
WHERE: St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church, 15617 Mason Road, Vermilion.