Public meeting set in Westfield for proposed gypsy moth treatments

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is seeking input from residents and other interested parties in Stokes County concerning planned treatment activities for the non-native, highly destructive gypsy moth.

The meeting will be held Thursday, March 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the Westfield Volunteer Fire and First Response, Old Westfield Road, Westfield. Information on proposed treatment options for the 17,333-acre site will be discussed.

Field monitoring activities conducted by the department have determined that reproducing populations of the gypsy moth exist about six miles west of Danbury and three miles east of Westfield. N.C. Highway 66 runs through the middle of the block. N.C. Highway 268/Lynchburg Road passes through the block and N.C. Highway 89 touches its northeastern corner. The Dan River passes through its northeast corner, and numerous tributaries feed into the river from this block, including Big Creek, Vade Mecum Creek, North Double Creek and South Double Creek. This block has a little farmland and is predominately wooded. There are 762 houses and other structures in this block. The proposed treatment involves one application of mating disruptant.

In 2017, as many as 20 moths per trap were captured, up from the two to nine moths captured per trap in 2016.

In early spring, gypsy moth caterpillars feed on the leaves of hundreds of plant species, predominantly oaks and other hardwood trees. In heavily infested areas, trees may be completely stripped of foliage, leaving entire forests more susceptible to attacks from other pests.

Gypsy moths can also be a nuisance to the general public. In heavily infested areas, caterpillars may crawl on driveways, sidewalks, outdoor furniture, into homes, or end up in pools. Heavy defoliation can affect parks and recreation areas. Some people can have allergic reactions to the caterpillars’ tiny hairs if inhaled.

Options for dealing with gypsy moth infestations include aerial spraying of biological pesticides or gypsy moth mating disruptants. Trapping grids will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of these treatments.

The department has addressed spot introductions of the gypsy moth in several areas across North Carolina since the 1970s. The department is working with nine other states through the Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Foundation and with other state and federal agencies to reduce the expansion of the gypsy moth into uninfested areas of the country.