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Gypsy moths problematic

June 18, 2007

The Washington County office of the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension has received about a dozen calls reporting trees being stripped of leaves by gypsy moths, an official said Friday.

Most come from homeowners with large numbers of oak trees, a gypsy moth favorite, said Annette Ipsan, extension educator for horticulture.

"Unfortunately, there is no control available that kills the larger caterpillars we are seeing now. It's important to use control measures earlier in the season and to understand that most trees can handle a year or two of attack," Ipsan said.

To prevent defoliation, Ipsan recommends destroying egg masses before April, when egg hatching begins.

Homeowners also can use sticky barrier bands to trap young caterpillars before they enter treetops. Hiding bands also trap caterpillars on the move.

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And Bt, a naturally occurring bacteria, can be sprayed on trees by homeowners or arborists to control young caterpillars.

Information about controlling gypsy moths is available on the University of Maryland's Home and Garden Information Center's Web site at www.hgic.umd.edu and at the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Web page, www.mda.state.md.us; look under "plants/pests" and "forest pest management."

For more information, call 1-800-342-2507.

Homeowners can report severe gypsy moth infestations by leaving their name, address and telephone number with entomologist Tom Lupp at the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 1-301-662-2074. Reports will guide scouting and future spraying programs, Lupp said.

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