Forest Service addresses gypsy moth population

From staff reports

The USDA Forest Service is accepting public comments on a proposal to suppress gypsy moth populations in Allegheny National Forest.

The Forest Service has partnered with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry to conduct gypsy moth egg mass surveys to assess population trends. Preliminary results show notable egg mass numbers, especially in oak forests north of Route 59, according to the Forest Service.

The high numbers observed are indicative of a building population, with high potential for substantial tree defoliation in 2021. If defoliation occurs in consecutive years, or is combined with additional stressors like drought, dieback and tree mortality could occur.

Proposed action includes aerial application of a naturally occurring native bacterium – Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstakii (Btk) – to the crowns of overstory trees. Treatments could begin as early as April and would continue in future years as needed.

The comment period will begin when a legal notice is published in the Warren Times Observer and end 30 days after publication.