Pheromone spraying helps save trees from gypsy moths - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Pheromone spraying helps save trees from gypsy moths

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(Toledo News Now) -

Over 13,000 acres of wooded land in Northwest Ohio was recently treated to stem the population growth of the gypsy moth, which poses a threat to over 300 different kinds of trees and shrubs.

The gypsy moth was introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1860's and has spread westward. Northwest Ohio is on the leading edge of the moth's expansion.

Gypsy moth caterpillars are infamous for their ability to completely defoliate trees. They primarily target oak trees, but have been known to leave many other trees and shrubs devoid of leaves.

Since 2000, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and similar departments in 10 other states have been spraying a pheromone into wooded areas from low flying airplanes during the moth's mating season to prevent male gypsy moths from finding the flightless females.

The pheromone is completely harmless to humans and other wildlife.

This population control is very important to slow the spread of the invasive species.

"There's no natural predators to keep it under control. So when a population explodes, they can kill trees," said David Adkins, who runs the gypsy moth program for the Ohio Department Agriculture

The state also treated portions of Oak Openings back in May.

The pheromone spraying ended this week. Now the state will observe the possible growth of the population, and decide where to continue the program next year.

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