RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is seeking input from residents in Rockingham, Stokes and Warren counties concerning planned treatment activities for the non-native, highly destructive gypsy moth.
Field monitoring activities conducted by the department in 2013 determined that reproducing populations of the gypsy moth exist in Rockingham and Warren counties and represent a threat to hardwood trees. Residents in or near the proposed treatment areas have been sent notices by mail.
The following meetings are scheduled:
— Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. at the Vera Holland Community Center, 201 E. Main St., Stoneville. This meeting is for both of the proposed treatments in Rockingham County: one area is about 3 miles northwest of Madison, near the boundary with Stokes County, and the other is about 3 miles northwest of Eden.
— Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m. at the Warren County Memorial Library, 119 S. Front St., Warrenton. This meeting is for the proposed treatment area about 6 miles northwest of Norlina along the Virginia border in Warren County.
In early spring, gypsy moth caterpillars feed on the leaves of hundreds of plant species, predominantly 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. Caterpillars may migrate in search of food, sometimes entering houses and falling into swimming pools. Some people can have allergic reactions to the caterpillars’ tiny hairs.
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.