Officials watch gypsy moth path in southeastern Ohio

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WOOSTER, Ohio – Gypsy moths have begun emerging throughout Ohio and forestry officials speculate the invasive insects will continue to spread throughout the southeastern half of the state.

Dan Herms, an Ohio State University Extension entomologist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, has been monitoring egg hatch in some parts of the state to accurately time management practices.

Herms predicts defoliation will be low in northeast Ohio this season, but will continue to increase in the eastern and southeastern parts of the state.

Where it’s headed. According to Ohio Department of Agriculture statistics, the gypsy moth has already established itself in nearly half of Ohio’s 88 counties, encompassing the uppermost western counties and spreading east through central Ohio to the southern boundaries of Hocking and Athens counties.

Prime territory. The insect feeds on more than 100 species of deciduous and evergreen trees, severely stressing the trees, and in some cases killing them. Oak, which is the dominant tree in forests throughout eastern and southeastern Ohio, is its favorite host.

“The moths are still spreading into new habitats,” said Herms. He speculates that the ridge and valley system of the Appalachian foothills will also facilitate rapid increases in population.

“Newly hatched larvae will be able to spread faster as wind currents carry them from the tree canopies on the ridges into the valleys below.”

Treatments. The ODA will begin gypsy moth suppression treatments in May. Aerial treatments will cover 16,000 acres in Ashland, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fulton, Guernsey, Harrison, Hancock, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Lorain, Lucas, Muskingum, Ross, Stark, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Washington, Wayne and Williams counties.

Egg hatch occurs over two to three weeks. Larvae then feed throughout May and June before entering the pupal stage to emerge as adults in July.

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