Minnesota to slow spread of gypsy moths in Houston County area

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Pixabay
Gypsy Moth Caterpillar, courtesy of Pixabay

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WKBT) — Minnesota wildlife officials are working to slow the spread of gypsy moths in Houston, Wabasha and Winona counties.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will conduct aerial treatment of eight sites in southeastern Minnesota early next week, beginning as early as 6:30 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. The exact date will depend on weather conditions.

The eight sites total approximately 69,000 acres. They are:

  • Houston County – Jefferson block – 2,881 acres (MAP)
  • Houston County – Mound Prairie block – 12,060 acres (MAP)
  • Houston County – Brownsville block, including portions of the city of Brownsville – 2,418 acres (MAP)
  • Wabasha and Winona counties – Weaver block – 13,004 acres (MAP)
  • Winona County – Dakota block – 9,533 acres (MAP)
  • Winona County – Homer Ridge block – 26,061 acres (MAP)
  • Winona County – Pleasant Hill block – 1,470 acres (MAP)
  • Winona County – Wiscoy block – 2,489 acres (MAP)

Residents can look up their address on an interactive map to determine if they are within any of these blocks.

The treatment consists of an organically certified, waxy, food-grade substance that contains pheromones specific to gypsy moths to confuse males. It makes it difficult for males to find females to mate with, which means fewer caterpillars and attacking trees next year.

The mating disruption product will be applied by low-flying yellow planes contracted by the U.S. Forest Service in a joint project with the MDA. The product is not harmful to humans, animals, birds, or other insects, and will help protect forest health, property values, and the state’s tourism industry, according to the MDA.

Gypsy moths are among America’s most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage to Eastern forests. The moths are now threatening Minnesota. If present in large numbers, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest. Oak, poplar, birch, and willow are among their preferred hosts. The moths spread slowly on their own, but people can unintentionally help them spread by transporting firewood or other items on which the moths have laid their eggs.

Contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at 1-888-545-6684 or Arrest.the.Pest@state.mn.us with questions regarding gypsy moth and the planned treatment.