Get ready for the gypsy moth invasion

| 13 Aug 2015 | 03:22

By Frances Ruth Harris
— Pike County was one of the most hard-hit in the state this year from that ravenous leaf eater, the gypsy month caterpillar. And now that their eggs masses have been formed, awaiting their spring rebirth, local residents who want to protect their trees are looking ahead the invasion of 2016.

The county teamed up Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on Aug. 12 at the county's fire training center to present information about a potential gypsy moth suppression program.

Five million dollars in cuts from the federal program signal this year’s spraying may be small. The state funding is for public lands, not private.

“It could be zero,” said Scott Stitzer a pest management specialist with the Division of Forest Health. He's awaiting definite dollar amounts from the stae.

“We hope by the time we bill, we’ll know," he said.

With regard to private property, neighborhoods may join to cobble together 23 or more acres to be sprayed as a group. Stitzer said the insecticide, BT, is a non-toxic substance that is “found in nature, in the dirt.” BT, when consumed by the caterpillars, dissolves in the gut and causes paralysis of the digestive system. BT is a living organism, so its residual effects are shorter than those of most chemical insecticides, Stitzer said.

Usually a helicopter is used to spray an area, although a small airplane can be used for large areas.

A per-acre fee will be determined once the impact of available state money is known. Community applications include a $75 non-refundable application fee. Individual applications include a $20 non-refundable application fee.

The application deadline is Sept. 1. Applications are available online at and at the County Administration Building in Milford. The Pike County Conservation District will also send the application as an attachment to an email. Call 570-226-8220 with questions.

County staffers do field evaluations quickly to determine eligibility. No late applications will be considered.

Kelly Rodemich, gypsy moth coordinator with the Pike County Conservation District, and Sally Corrigan, the district's executive director, stressed the necessity of submitting applications on time. They said repeatedly that late applications will miss the boat.

For additional information visit the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website at