The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is seeking input from residents and other interested parties in Dare County concerning planned treatment activities for the non-native, highly destructive gypsy moth.
The meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. at the Fessenden Center, 46830 N.C. 12 in Buxton. Information on treatment options for the 750-acre site will be discussed.
This site was treated in the spring of 2016, reducing the population of gypsy moths. Field monitoring activities conducted by the department determined that reproducing populations of the gypsy moth were not as widespread following the treatment, but moths remain in the area. The proposed treatment for this site includes three applications of Gypcheck, a gypsy moth-specific product.
The area is on the west side of Buxton, with N.C. 12 running through the northern side of the block and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the south. The block includes 200 residences, churches, businesses, two schools and Buxton Woods, a large maritime forest. Wooded areas include oaks, pine and other hardwoods.
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 swimming 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.