ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is preparing to treat 791 acres north of Hinckley to eradicate gypsy moth infestations detected in the area last fall. Officials will conduct the treatments starting sometime between June 1 and June 15, with the exact date determined by weather conditions and caterpillar development.
In 2016, MDA’s trapping program found an infestation north of Hinckley. (SEE MAP) Details of the area can be found at www.mda.state.mn.us/
To eradicate the moths before they spread, officials will conduct two aerial applications of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) over the same area, spaced 7-10 days apart. Btk is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved bacterium with very low risk for humans or animals other than caterpillars. Btk is widely used within the organic gardening community. Over the years, the MDA has eradicated gypsy moth infestations on thousands of acres across the state using this method. These efforts protect forest health, property values and the state’s tourism industry.
Gypsy moths are among America’s most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage to Eastern forests. The moths are now threatening Minnesota. If present in large numbers, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest. Oak, poplar, birch and willow are among their preferred hosts. The moths spread slowly on their own, but people can unintentionally help them spread by transporting firewood or other items on which the moths have laid their eggs.
To help area citizens stay informed, the MDA has set up an Arrest the Pest Info Line at 1-888-545-MOTH. The info line will offer the latest details about treatment dates and times. The MDA’s website (www.mda.state.mn.us/gypsymoth
- For the moth treatment to work, it must begin early in the morning. Treatments may begin as early as 5:30 a.m. Residents may be awakened on that day by the noise of the low-flying helicopter. The MDA apologizes for any inconvenience;
- The treatment product has no known health effects for humans, but to avoid it residents may wish to stay indoors during the treatment and keep windows closed for a half hour after application; and,
- The residue does not cause damage to outdoor surfaces. However, soapy water will remove any residue on outdoor items.
— Minnesota Department of Agriculture