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NYS DEC begins biological attack on the Spongy Moth

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Two Allegany County forests will be part of the aerial bombardment

The Spongy Moth isn’t new to NYS forests, but it has a new name. Until recently the leaf eater was referred to as the “Gypsy Moth,” but renamed due to cultural sensitivities. An invasive insect, the Spongy Moth appears to be at the peak of a cycle which ravages tree canopies and creates havoc in the ecosystem. The DEC announced they will be spraying a specialized virus from the air in key locations across the state to combat the damage:

DEC Announces Aerial Treatment for Spongy Moth in Six High Priority Forest Areas

Aerial Treatment Taking Place Through Approximately May 31

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that DEC will be conducting aerial treatments for the invasive pest spongy moth (formerly known as gypsy moth) in six high priority forests in New York. Treatment will take place between May 20 and May 31, weather permitting. The priority areas chosen already suffered spongy moth defoliation for multiple years and are expected to have another high level of infestation this year according to survey efforts conducted by DEC regional staff.

“New York’s forest ecosystems provide critical habitat for a wide array of species while also providing a place for people to live and play,” said Commissioner Seggos. “These treatments, developed using sound science, will help DEC protect some of New York’s most vulnerable forests from the invasive pest spongy moth, which has been defoliating trees all across New York State for multiple years.”

The areas being treated are:

  • Allegany State Park
  • Coyle State Forest
  • Rush Creek State Forest
  • South Valley State Forest
  • Sonyea State Forest
  • Rome Sand Plains

“The areas chosen for spongy moth treatment reflect some of New York’s most valuable ecosystems,” says DEC Forester Rob Cole. “Among our considerations in choosing treatment areas were the protection of endangered moth species in Allegany State Park, as well as several rare plants, butterflies, and birds in the Rome Sand Plains.”

The treatment being used is Gypchek, a biopesticide produced from a naturally occurring nucleopolyhedrosis virus, or NPV, that only affects spongy moth larvae. According to research by the U.S. Forest Service (leaves DEC website), Gypchek is not related to any human or mammalian viruses and is only distantly related to other insect viruses, therefore it has no negative effect on wildlife, plants, or people.

For more information about spongy moth, including control options, visit DEC’s spongy moth webpage.

For a video update from DEC Forester Rob Cole on spongy moth across New York State, visit DEC’s website.

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