PIKE COUNTY - Who’s going to spray the caterpillars next year and how much is going to cost, people were asking Tuesday. About 60 people attended the Pike County Conservation District’s Gypsy Moth information program at Dingman-Delaware Middle School. The biggest concern centered on the costs for the 2007 program, said Donald Eggen, Forest Health Manager, of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Federal money, which the state had passed on, is expected to dry up next year. The problem of lost federal support will hit hard next year, as spraying costs are expected to go up sharply. Susan Beecher, district manager for Pike County Conservation District, said it cost $12 an acre to spray this year. “In 2007 it is expected to cost $35 an acre,” she said. A senior homeowner asked, “If it is going to cost at least three times as much in 2007, how will I be able to afford this?” Townships, also expected to ante up, are asking the same question. On Monday evening, in response to a query from the county commissioners, the Milford Township Supervisors agreed to donate “what they could afford” toward spraying costs. The county wanted the township to pay half of the still unknown costs. Treasurer Violet Canouse said she could not endorse the request without the supervisors’ agreement to raise taxes to provide the extra money. “They want us to agree to pay half by August and they won’t even know what it will cost until September,” said Supervisor Gary Williams. At Tuesday’s meeting, Eggen said, “Last year the federal government provided $13 million natonally. Pennsylvania asked for $2 million and received less than half of that. This year the president’s budget has zero dollars allocated for this problem nationwide.” Another person asked, “How can the feds just not give us any help?” Some people wanted to know what can be done to prevent the devastation that took place this year. Eggen advised to prepare in early April by tying a 12-inch piece of burlap around your oak trees where gypsy moth caterpillars like to go during the day. This helps foster the growth of a fungus which attacks the caterpillars. Below the burlap, he said, wrap the tree with duct tape coated with Tanglefoot, a sticky substance that prevents caterpillars from getting up the trees to feast on their leaves.” Eggen said scraping the egg masses from trees only works if you destroy them afterwards. If they fall to the ground some of the eggs will continue to survive. You have to gather them in a jar with soapy water which will destroy the eggs. “The gypsy moths have been here since 1932 and they are here to stay,” said Eggen. “We can’t eradicate them. We can only slow them down.” Property owners seeking consideration for the 2007 spray program must submit an application and fee by Aug. 5. There is a $10 non-refundable application fee for individuals, $50 for communities. Applying will get your property evaluated for the spray program, but is not a guarantee that the property will be included. Applications are available on the Conservation District’s Web site at www.pikeconservation.org or the County Web site at www.pikepa.org, or they can be picked up at the County Administration Building in Milford, municipal offices or the Pike County Conservation District office in Blooming Grove.