The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is gearing up to tackle gypsy moth infestations in northeastern Minnesota.
Public informational sessions are scheduled Monday, March 1 and Tuesday March 2 on the North Shore and in Duluth.
Gypsy moths are destructive tree pests that have caused millions of dollars in damage to forests from New England to Wisconsin. The department’s gypsy moth survey program found new infestations in Minnesota in 2009. Of the 27,000 moths found in 2009, nearly 99 percent were in the Arrowhead region.
To combat these infestations, MDA and its federal, state and local partners propose to conduct treatments in five zones or “treatment blocks.” Due to high moth concentrations near Clover Valley School in St. Louis County, and Cramer and Finland in Lake County, MDA proposes to use the biological insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) for those three treatment blocks covering a total of 2,152 acres. Btk targets the moth’s larval stage of development and treatments typically occur in late May or early June. MDA proposes to treat the other two treatment blocks (roughly 98,694 acres total) using mating disruption. This method involves the application of a synthetic “mimic” that confuses male gypsy moths so they are unable to find and mate with females. Application is timed just as the adult moths emerge from pupae in late July or early August.
While MDA has lead responsibility for gypsy moth treatment, the department works in close partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and a host of local and non-profit partners. Before conducting a treatment, MDA submits proposals to other agencies for review of any potential effects on threatened and endangered species and for any impacts on historical sites.
Informational Meeting Schedule:
Monday, March 1: DNR Office, 6686 Highway, 1, Finland, 5-7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 2: Gooseberry Falls State Park, 3206 Highway 61 E.,
Two Harbors, 1-2 p.m.
Tuesday, March 2: Duluth Township Hall, 6092 Homestead Rd. Duluth, 5-7 p.m.