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Published: Thursday, 4/27/2006

Gypsy moth problems are back in season

Gypsy moths - those pesky, leaf-munching insects that have attacked area trees for years - are back for another round this year.

Last fall's surveying showed the biggest problem area in Lucas County was in the vicinity of Winterfield Park in South Toledo, near Hill Avenue and Richards Road. But it wasn't a dense enough cluster to warrant aerial spraying by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said Amy Stone, Ohio State University extension agent in Toledo.

The state agriculture department's Web site shows that the only sites in northwest Ohio that have been funded for such treatment this year are two in Paulding County and one in Putnam County.

No sites in Monroe, Lenawee, or Hillsdale counties will be sprayed, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture's Web site.

Consequently, the best advice from Ms. Stone: Keep an eye on your trees and report suspicious leaf die-offs.

County treatment applications are due each Sept. 15.

Gypsy moths were a big problem in the Sylvania area a few years ago. Oak trees are their favorite, but they've been known to attack dozens of other types of trees and plants.

Typically, the moth larvae climb upward and out of reach when the caterpillars hatch this time of year, the Toledo extension office said.

The moths are fussy eaters. Unfortunately, that doesn't help a lot. Nature allows the larvae to suspend themselves by a silken strand and wait for a gust of wind to blow them to other trees. They keep doing that until they find leaves they like, the extension office said.

The moths are voracious eaters, capable of stripping the foliage from trees in weeks.

Call the Toledo extension office at 419-243-MOTH if you suspect you have a problem.

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