Once again it is May and once again the DNR will continue the fight to slow the spread of the gypsy moth in Indiana. For more 25 years the pest has been held in check and confined to comparatively small infestations in Indiana.
The first round of treatments of the infested areas was scheduled to begin Tuesday, May 11 at about 5 a.m. Two treatments, separated by seven to 10 days, are required to eradicate the gypsy moth larvae in each infested area. Therefore, the infested areas will probably be treated again late in the week of May 17 if weather permits. On the day of the treatment, at about 5 a.m., an airplane will begin applying a bacteria commonly found in the soil to the treetops of infested areas. The bacterium shuts down the digestive system of gypsy moth caterpillars so they can’t digest leaves. The bacterium, called Btk, is short for Bacillus thuringiensis (var.kurstaki). Btk is not harmful to humans or pets. A small number of people have experienced minor eye or sinus irritation if they are directly exposed. People who live or work near the
treatment areas can take common sense precautions, including avoiding direct exposure to themselves or their belongings.
People in treatment areas who are concerned about sensitivity to the treatment may choose to adjust their times outdoors to avoid exposure and stay indoors until one-half to one hour after the plane has completed its last flight over the area. Pet food and water or other food or drink should be covered or kept indoors until one-half hour after the spraying. The airplane is a crop duster that flies about 50-feet above treetops to precisely apply the Btk in the treatment areas. The plane will make turns over adjacent areas but will not release any Btk over those areas.
People with questions about this project may call Indianapolis toll-free
1-877-INFODNR (463-6367) between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday or contact their county extension office.
Maps and aerial photographs of the treatment sites and further information about the gypsy moth may be found on the DNR Entomology Web site at:
www.state.IN.us/dnr/entomolo Specific treatment sites and Web-based maps are as follows:
LAGRANGE COUNTY Treatment area: Cass Lake Block
NOBLE COUNTY Treatment areas: 300 S & SR 9 Block,
DEKALB COUNTY Treatment areas: SW DeKalb Block,
WHITLEY COUNTY Treatment areas: Churubusco & Riley Road
ALLEN COUNTY Treatment areas: Arcola
County Line www.in.gov/dnr/entomolo/images/countyline%3bstreets_rs.jpg
The gypsy moth, which now has a foothold in some counties in northern Indiana, was first brought to the United States from Europe over 100 years ago. For the past 25 years, Indiana has delayed gypsy moths from becoming more widespread through aerial treatments wherever isolated infestations have been detected. Because of this delay, as the gypsy moth moves through the state, the DNR will be able to incorporate newer and safer methods that will preserve the long-term health of Indiana’s woodlands and urban forests. The gypsy moth is the most serious forest and urban landscape pest in the United States. It now occupies the northeastern United States, a portion of northeast Ohio and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Gypsy moth movement occurs naturally along the front of the generally infested area. It typically advances at a rate of approximately 13 miles a year.
The gypsy moth is capable of defoliating 3 million acres of forest a year in the United States; the approximate equivalent to 70% of Indiana’s forested acreage. Gypsy moth caterpillars kill trees by eating all of the foliage from the tree. The caterpillars can eat the leaves of 500 species of trees and plants but prefer oak trees. While most trees will re-foliate after leaves are consumed, continued annual defoliation of plants already under stressful conditions may kill them in two to four years.
Further, drastic changes in ecological habitat due to the loss of foliage may lead to the loss of other plants and wildlife. Death to valuable timber may cause an economic impact detrimental to the timber industry and other related industries. Urban area concerns include potential liabilities from dead limbs and trees, and the cost of tree removal. In addition, caterpillar hairs may become skin and respiratory irritants. Caterpillars and their droppings may cause a nuisance in recreational areas. There are approximately 4.4 million acres of forested land in Indiana. About 3.25 million acres, or 80 percent of the trees in those forests, are very susceptible to gypsy moth damage. A variety of plants favorable to gypsy moth also exist in the urban environment. The current threat of spread into northern Indiana comes from the natural spread of the infestation.
DNR issues quarantine to ban giant African land snail. The giant African land snail is an unwanted visitor to the United Sates. Although it has been traded at flea markets and kept as a pet, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has never issued a permit to import the snails. All of the snails in the U.S. are here illegally.
Recently a local Wabash County health department worker read that the snails would be available at a local flea market. The snails were confiscated and destroyed. As a reaction to the discovery of the snails in Indiana, the DNR, on April 30 issued a quarantine banning the snails in Indiana. The quarantine said, in part, that no person in Indiana may “possess, offer for sale, sell, give away, barter, exchange, or otherwise distribute or release a giant African land snail, in any life stage, in Indiana.” Anyone in possession of a giant African land snail should call the DNR, toll free, at 1-877-463-6367 or the USDA’s Gary Simon, state plant health director, in Lafayette at 765-446-0267. The snails should never be thrown out, released into the wild or flushed. DNR state entomologist Dr. Robert Waltz, said the giant African land snail is considered to be the most threatening to the environment of any land snail in the world. “The giant African land snail is known to eat at least 500 different types of plants including some grown as crops in Indiana,” Waltz said. “The plants the snail eats includes most varieties of beans, peas, cucumbers, and melons.” According to the USDA Web site, in 1966, a Miami, FL, boy smuggled three giant African snails into south Florida upon returning from a trip to Hawaii. His grandmother eventually released the snails into her garden. Seven years later, more than 18,000 snails had been found along with scores of eggs. The Florida state eradication program took 10 years at a cost of $1million.
(www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/ep/gasalert.pdf) State health officials warn that individuals can become ill if they ingest snails that have not been completely cooked.
“Giant African land snails can carry the rat lung worm, which can cause individuals who eat raw or undercooked snails to develop meningitis and to suffer from permanent neurological damage,” said Dr. Mike Sinkso, medical entomologist for the Indiana State Department of Health. “While the rat lung worm has not been reported in Indiana, there is concern that it could have been imported from tropical areas,” Sinsko said. Scientists believe the giant African land snail is originally from East Africa. It is now commonly found throughout the Indo-Pacific Basin, including the Hawaiian islands. Finally, the USDA says each snail contains both female and male reproductive organs. After a single mating session, each snail can produce 100 to 400 eggs. This amazing creature can duplicate reproduction through several cycles without engaging in another mating. In a typical year, every mated adult lays about 1,200 eggs. For additional information about the giant African land snail, go to the USDA Web site at: www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/ep/gas.html