Site of the Frederick County Forest Conservancy District Board, Frederick Maryland

Gypsy moth suppression

The cool damp conditions we are experiencing in 2011 should promote the growth of various diseases that will affect trees, but it should not encourage insect outbreaks, especially in the lepidopterous "moth and butterfly" group (of which gypsy moth is a prominent member).
Gypsy moth numbers saw a steep decline after 2009, and if they behave like historical models, there should be eight to 10 down years following the three up years we experienced in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
There were very few viable egg masses deposited in Frederick County last summer, and gypsy moth egg mass counts are low. As a result, there will not be much gypsy moth presence this spring. Although no counting of Eastern tent caterpillars, forest tent caterpillars or oak span worms are taken, these insects should be on the low side also, based on the weather conditions.

A review of the 2009 Supplemental Gypsy Moth Program 

The Frederick County Gypsy Moth task force met during the fall of 2008 and determined that a supplemental gypsy moth suppression program would again be needed in 2009 given the expected levels of infestation throughout the county.  Parkton Woodland Services was once again retained to provide administrative support and, the task force submitted bid requests to numerous spray contractors.  Helicopter Applicators provided the successful bid and were chosen as the spray contractor.  

To publicize this program the Task Force sent out individual mailings to previous year’s participants, submitted articles to local newspapers, and held a gypsy moth informational meeting at the C. Burr Artz Library  in Frederick City on December 4, 2008.

The failing economy of 2008 – 2009 had a fairly significant impact on this program.  Given budget constraints Frederick County was unable to offer monetary assistance to provide cost sharing.  In addition, the State of Maryland had to drop some of their anticipated spray blocks due to reduced funding levels thereby increasing participation in the supplemental program in some cases.  In addition, many private individuals cited poor economic conditions as reason for not participating in the 2009 program.  

Spraying for the Supplemental Program began on May 12, and concluded on June 1, 2009.  In total, nearly 300 landowners participated in this program treating some 5,400 acres.  All of these properties were sprayed with the insecticide Confirm at 3.5 oz/acre. The spring and summer of 2009 was characterized by cool, rainy weather.  These environmental conditions benefit the naturally occurring virus and fungus that suppress gypsy moth numbers.  The result of the public and private spray programs along with the prevailing climatic conditions  is that that gypsy moth populations had declined significantly without causing much defoliation. 

These ground observations were confirmed after The Maryland Department of Agriculture, Forest Pest Management Section conducted its summer flight to determine levels of defoliation and noted no significant defoliation in any section of the county.  In addition, the Forest Pest Management Section is in the midst of their gypsy moth egg mass surveys and reports that no significant populations exist to warrant developing a spray block in 2010.  This survey is not yet complete so this might change. For now it appears that the gypsy moth populations have crashed and it looks like no significant spaying will be necessary in 2010 or the foreseeable future.  

Special thanks go out to those private citizens who assisted with this effort especially members of the Gypsy Moth Task force many of which spent significant time and effort on this project with no monetary gain.  Also thanks go out to the local jurisdictions who assisted  with this program especially Frederick County, legislators who helped acquire diminishing funds for this work, and those individuals in the MD Department of Agriculture, MD Department of Natural Resources, Parkton Woodland Services, and Helicopter Applicators that assisted with the spray effort.

Mike Kay


Maryland plans spraying to combat gypsy moth damage

The Associated Press
    10:12 AM EDT, May 1, 2009

The Maryland Department of Agriculture says it is beginning an aerial spraying program to combat gypsy moth caterpillars that will total 33,000 acres across the state.

The forest pests defoliated about 19,000 acres of trees last year.

Agriculture Secretary Roger Richardson said Thursday that this year's campaign will focus largely on central and western Maryland, including more than 11,000 acres in Frederick County and about 7,200 in Washington County.

The cyclical infestations are on a downswing. Defoliation damage last peaked in 2007 at 68,000 acres statewide.


2009 Gypsy Moth Informational Meeting 

Over 60 landowners from around Frederick County attended an informational meeting on gypsy moth at the C. Burr Artz Regional Library in Frederick on 12-4-08. Speakers included Tom Lupp, MD Department of Agriculture Forest and Pest Management who presented a program on how to identify gypsy moth and assess your forests potential for defoliation. Tom also detailed what areas in Frederick County are being threatened with defoliation during 2009. Finally Tom outlined the criteria MDA uses for delineating spray blocks and gave a preliminary preview of the 2009 spray program which could be subject to change. Mike Kay, MD Forest Service spoke about the development of the 2008 Supplemental Spray program and outlined what is being done to develop a suppression program for 2009. Finally, Bill Bond, Parkton Woodland Services, outlined what can be expected from the administrative end in the development of a 2009 supplemental program. Following these presentations, the panel of presenters along with Alison Hegamyer of the Frederick County Gypsy Moth Task Force conducted a question and answer session with the audience and participants had a chance to review population survey maps and other documents. This program was sponsored by the Frederick County Forestry Board and Frederick County Gypsy Moth Task Force.

Sponsorship of this meeting was provided by: Frederick County Forestry Board, MD Department of Agriculture, MD DNR, Forest Service, and Frederick County Gypsy Moth Task Force.

The maps below show the results of spraying on defoliation in 2008 for Frederick County.  Note the lack of overlap between the spray areas and deloiation areas (maps courtesy of Frederick County Geographic Information Systems (GIS)).

In 2008, gypsy moth infestations in many forested areas of Frederick County were severe enough to potentially defoliate thousands of acres of forest. High tree mortality can result from gypsy moth defoliation two or more years in a row or when other stresses to the forests are present such as drought. In 2008, thousands of acres of Frederick Forest are expected to be defoliated, unless treated. With an estimated one million acres  devastation since 1980 state lawmakers have been studying the problem. "It literally looks like a war zone once they come through," said American Joe Miedusiewski, a lobbyist for the Maryland Arborist Association (Washington Post, Moths Munch Trees, 3/21/2008).

Gypsy moths, native to parts of Europe, Asia and Africa, were brought to the U.S. for a breeding experiment to produce a more robust silk worm. After their accidental release in the United States in the 1860’s they have proliferated in the absence of the natural controls present in their native habitat. Gypsy moth larvae (caterpillars) have voracious appetites and thrive on the hardwood forests of our area, with oaks being their preferred diet.

Pictured below are Gypsy moth larvae emerging from the egg mass (left) and an older Gypsy moth larvae showing five pairs of raised blue spots and six pairs of raised brick-red spots (right).

Gypsy moth larvae emerging from the egg mass

On November 3, 2007 the Frederick County Forestry Board conducted a workshop at Cunningham Falls to educate property owners of the anticipated spring time infestation of gypsy moths and the potential defoliation of Frederick forests. The workshop resulted in a follow-up meeting where concerned property owners discussed alternative actions to combat the problem. Six attendees have offered to serve as a 'task force' to act as an interface with spray applicators and the property owners. The Frederick County MD Gypsy Moth Task Force has also been successful in securing governmental support for the suppression program.

Spraying for Gypsy moth in northern Frederick County

Monday May 5, 2008

Day one saw us tweaking the Ag-Nav system and the relative humidity plummeted from a reading of 75 to 35 right about 9:00 am. As such we had to cut our day short . ( We can not spray once the Rh goes below 60 because the spray will evaporate before it reaches the leaves.)   The navigation system is working perfectly now and Tuesday promises to be a good spray day so that we anticipate spraying for most of the day.  Wednesday should be a good day as well along with most of Thursday.  Rain is expected for late Thursday and most of Friday.

Below are photos of from the first day of spraying showing the insecticide 'Confirm' and the helicopter ready for flight. The photos were taken at the Macintosh property over on Ira Sears Road.


Officials wait to gauge damage from gypsy moths

Monday June 2, 2008

To learn more news on the status of Gypsy moth suppression in Frederick County see the article entitled Officials wait to gauge damage from gypsy moths in the Frederick News-Post.

Gypsy Moth Update for June 19, 2008

Forecasts for 2008, based on fall 2007 egg mass counts, predicated a severe outbreak of gypsy moth in Frederick County affecting nearly 43,000 acres of forests.  This represents nearly 30% of our forest land base in the county!  With this in mind the Maryland Department of Agriculture ramped up its yearly suppression program spraying nearly 23,000 acres of forest in the county.  A private “supplemental” program was also launched where private landowners paid 60% of the cost of suppression and 40% was cost shared from funds earmarked by the Frederick County Commissioners.  This supplemental program resulted in the spraying of nearly 9,000 acres.  The supplemental program was developed and administered by a diverse group of partners known as the Frederick County Gypsy Moth Task Force.  In addition, the Federal Government sprayed much of their susceptible forest land in Catoctin National Park and along the C&O Canal and Monocacy National Battlefields.

Most gypsy moth populations are entering into the final stages of their larval development.  The larvae are entering a transformational “pupal” state for a few weeks then they will emerge as adults, mate,  lay their eggs then die.  Once the larval stage is past the threat of defoliation is over since adult gypsy moth does not feed.

A section of forest near Thurmont defoliated by gypsy moth 6-16-08.

A nearby property  that was spayed with Confirm during the supplemental program.

By late summer we will be better able to assess the damage inflicted on our forests when the Maryland Department of Agriculture conducts its aerial surveys; and, determine the gypsy moth threat for 2009 by counting newly laid egg masses.  From my general observations it appears that the widespread spraying initiative combined with environmental factors has helped us avoid widespread destruction by this damaging insect.  I have recently seen signs that naturally occurring disease pathogens are impacting gypsy moth such as the NPV virus and the bacterium Entomophaga maimaiga.  These pathogens are more active when we experience cool, wet weather during the spring and the gypsy moth populations are high which certainly the case was during 2008.

A late season larvae getting ready to pupate right, next to a gypsy moth that has died from the NPV Virus left.

The Gypsy Moth Task Force will be meeting in Mid-July to critique the supplemental program and to develop a report that will be distributed to the County Commissioners and other State and Federal officials.  Our hope is that we can maintain the necessary resources to enable gypsy moth control should a damaging population arise again.

Gypsy Moth Update for July 18, 2008

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has finished its 2008 aerial surveys to assess defoliation across Frederick County and they have determined that 4,494.22 acres of Moderate Defoliation i.e. (30% - 60%) occurred and 3,709.325 acres of Heavy Defoliation i.e. (> 60% defoliation) occurred during 2008.  The total acres defoliated equals 8,203.545 acres.  So, to sum up the 2008 season, we expected 43,000 acres of heavy defoliation based on 2007 egg mass counts, nearly 32,000 acres were sprayed throughout the county during the spring of 2008; and, we witnessed 8,203.545 acres of moderate to heavy defoliation.  Please refer to the accompanying maps that shows were defoliation took place along with the spray blocks of the supplemental program. 

At present the adult gypsy moth are mating and laying eggs that will hatch during the spring of 2009. The adults do not feed, so trees will not be further damaged during 2008.  The adults will die after egg laying is complete.  It has been noticed that the naturally occurring virus and bacterium have affected the later stage caterpillars; and, the adult females are being found in lesser numbers than males. (Female gypsy moth goes through an additional larval stage so they are more prone to be affected by the naturally occurring diseases.)  In addition, some of the new egg masses are smaller than normal which is a sign of a population under stress.  All of these observations point out that the overall populations may be in a state of decline.  However, it is too early to predict the 2009 populations.  The Maryland Department of Agriculture will soon embark on their 2009 egg mass surveys to ascertain what the 2009 season will bring.


Pictured above: Male gypsy moth (left) and female laying eggs

The Frederick County Gypsy Moth Task Force recently met to evaluate the 2008 Supplemental program using the insecticide Confirm for suppression.  By talking to various landowners, looking at spray blocks, and evaluating the defoliation surveys we concluded that the Confirm spray was very effective; however, in some cases it did not prevent migration and moderate defoliation from untreated areas onto the edges of spray blocks.  We concluded that making future spray blocks as large and rectangular as possible would reduce this “edge effect”.  The task force also generated recommendations on how to make future spray programs more cohesive and concluded that we need to conduct more regional trainings and public information meetings to get public feedback and educate people on their options for gypsy moth control.  The Gypsy Moth Task Force wishes to thank the Frederick County Commissioners for their support of our program allowing us to offer landowners 40% cost share.  We would also like to thank our State and National officials who increased their appropriations for the Maryland Suppression program.  Working together we were able to prevent the defoliation of 43,000 acres of forest (1/3 of the forest in the county) by this destructive insect.

Use the links below to download an image of the 2008 spray block map for the central Frederick County, Thurmont, or Urbana areas.

Gypsy Moth Update for September 11, 2008

On September 11, 2008 Frederick County Forestry Board member Mike Kay presented a report on the 2008 Gypsy Moth Suppression Program to the Frederick County Commissioners since they provided funding for cost share. The 2008 Supplemental Gypsy Moth Control Program report is available to download as a PDF file.  The report includes the three maps  made of the spray blocks overlaying areas that were defoliated during the summer of 2008.

Other Pests
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Spurs Immediate Steps to Limit Asian Stink Bug Damage to American Farmers
Organizes Meetings & Letter from Congress for Coordinated Actions by USDA and EPA Washington, September 24, 2010
Congressmen Roscoe Bartlett (R-6-MD) this week coordinated meetings with officials from the Agriculture Department (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as collaborated with Congressman Todd Platts (R-19-PA) to send a bipartisan letter from Members of Congress to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to spur immediate steps to limit damage to American farmers from the Asian stink bug, Halyomorpha halys or the brown marmorated stink bug. The 15 bipartisan House members wrote that “both farmers and our local economies face profound harm if we fail to take action; damage from this insect could prove to be a national crisis.” Congressman Bartlett said, “My immediate goal has been met to reach agreement on a series of steps that will allow coordinated federal government assistance to combat the Asian brown marmorated stink bug during this year’s fall harvest and next year’s growing season. Swift action is needed to avert the potential of this invasive Asian stink bug to cause a plague for American agriculture of biblical proportions.”
Text of the letter signed by eight Republicans and seven Democratic House members is available below. Key members who signed the letter include the Chairman and Ranking Members of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7) and Frank Lucas (R-OK-3), Dennis Cardoza (CA-18), chairman of its Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, and fellow Maryland delegation members: Frank Kratovil (D-MD-2), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2), Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5). The Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture has jurisdiction of USDA-APHIS. In addition to Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD-6) and Todd Russell Platts (R-PA-19), the complete list of 15 members who signed the letter includes: Shelley Capito (R-WV-2), Bill Shuster (R-PA-9), Frank Kratovil (D-MD-2), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD-2), Steny Hoyer (D-MD-5), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA-18), Charlie Dent (R-PA-15), Frank Lucas (R-OK-3), Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7), Collin Peterson (D-MN-7), Frank Wolf (R-VA-10), Peter Welch (D-VT-at large), Tim Holden (D-PA-17).
Congressman Bartlett organized a meeting last night with officials from USDA-APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss strategies to combat the Asian brown marmorated stink bug. Congressman Platts as well as staff from other interested members attended that meeting. As a result of this meeting, USDA-APHIS agreed to the urgent request by members in their letter “to fast track the re-classification of Halyomorpha halys from a non-regulated pest to one that is regulated.”
Introduced to the U.S. from its native habitats in Asia in the mid-1990’s, Halyomorpha halys damages all types of crops (apples, corn, soybeans, peaches, pears, watermelons, cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, wine grapes, and more.) It is affecting silage, field corn including the stalk grown to feed dairy cows, and may damage dairy operations. Young trees such as sugar maples and other ornamentals are also damaged. While its greatest damage is currently occurring to crops in the mid-Atlantic region, Halyomorpha halys is fast moving. There are established populations in 15 states, with climates and agriculture as diverse as New Hampshire, Florida, Illinois and southern California. Specimens have been identified in 29 states.
Halyomorpha halys has no known natural predators in the United States. Its rapid spread, damage to so many different crops throughout the growing season, adaptation to diverse climates, and wintering in homes and other buildings has made control and eradication difficult. Existing plant protection products, pesticides and practices are only minimally effective because of the way the insect feeds.
To limit damage to American farmers and agriculture as a result of the dangerous characteristics of the Asian brown marmorated stink bug, the Members of Congress asked “that EPA evaluate existing plant protection tools and facilitate collaboration amongst the various federal research agencies, universities and private companies to ultimately facilitate the registration and/or emergency use of effective pesticides.”
In response to this request by Members of Congress and in response to the meeting, after the re-classification of the brown marmorated stink bug as a regulated pest, USDA-APHIS will request EPA approval under Section 18 of the Federal Fungicide Insecticide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for permission for farmers to apply pesticides found to be effective at limiting damage to crops attacked by the stink bug during the 2011 growing season. Section 18 authorizes EPA to allow an unregistered use of a pesticide for a limited time if EPA determines that an emergency condition exists. EPA officials agreed to take preliminary actions in anticipation of receipt this Section 18 request from USDA-APHIS to facilitate its swift implementation.
Text of the letter signed by eight Republicans and seven Democratic House members