The state sprayed half as much acreage against gypsy moths this year as it did last year.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
WARREN -- State and federal authorities will not spray against gypsy moths here unless neighbors are unanimous in wanting it, city residents fed up with the bugs were told.
About a dozen people, mostly from the northeast side of Warren, came to a panel convened by state Rep. Anthony A. Latell, Jr., D-67th, to discuss the leaf-loving pests, which can cover houses, dirty pools and make porches unusable.
They did not get the answer they were hoping for. Before the Ohio Department of Agriculture will spray and area, it requires a 50-acre block of landowners who all consent to the spraying. A department field agent also must confirm that the area has a minimum level of moth infestation, the residents were told.
"In a 50-acre area, it is impossible to get everyone to say 'yes,'" said Dan Machuzak of Genesee Avenue. He, like others in attendance, was involved in the effort to get signatures for the 1994 spraying of his neighborhood.
That time, the Ohio Department of Agriculture was willing to mark nonparticipating houses with balloons and ask the helicopter pilot to spray around them. Now, they are less so, said Kelly C. Harvey, Gypsy Moth Program manager for the department. But still, she said only one area in the 19 counties sprayed this year had problems getting landowner consent.
Already sprayed: State-wide, 38,000 acres were sprayed against gypsy moths in early May. That included three tracts in Trumbull County, Southington and Bazetta townships, and two areas south of Lake Milton in Mahoning County. The state conducted no gypsy moth spraying in Columbiana County, said Mary Smallsreed, a pest control specialist for the department.
Moths have been working their way south since they entered the state at the Pennsylvania and Michigan borders in 1971, and their eating is just about to get good. The bugs have reached the oak forests of the southern part of the state, and oak is their favorite food.
"We expect spraying to increase exponentially," said Harvey.
The population of gypsy moths has vacillated wildly since the Department of Agriculture began spraying in 1990.
Natural defenses: Rain, droughts and their effect on a particular moth-eating fungi have all had an impact on the gypsy moth population, Smallsreed said. But with one female moth laying 1,000 eggs, the population rebounds fast. Last year, the department sprayed 72,000 acres. The year before, only 1,100.
Emmett Inskeep of Warren has also been keeping tabs on the local gypsy moth population. Since 1995, he has kept track, month by month, of the number of caterpillars he has killed on the six trees in his Belvedere Street yard. It was up to 5,634 last year, from 568 in 1999 and 1,601 in 1998.
"I'm a gypsy moth nut," he said.
Harvey suggested residents either pay to have their own trees sprayed against gypsy moths, or ask city or township leaders to conduct spraying, if they can't meet the department's requirements.