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Gypsy Moth Eradication

Today I assisted Eldon Cutter setting up Gypsy moth traps around Big Oaks. Mr. Cutter works for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. He is part of a state-wide project geared toward the eradication of the Gypsy moth in the state of Indiana. Big Oaks NWR is just a small area of land that Mr. Cutter is in charge of, he has set up traps all along the southeastern region of Indiana.

The Gypsy moth is an invasive species. E. Leopold Trouvelot brought the moth over, from Europe, for silk production, in the mid-1800's. By 1890, the first outbreak occurred.

Gypsy moths feed on the foliage of many different species of trees, but tend to have a preference for oaks and aspens. When populations of Gypsy moths become very dense, they can completely defoliate a tree. With several years of high densities, along with other biotic and abiotic factors, tree mortality can occur, eventually leading to deforestation.

The project that Mr. Cutter is a part of helps eradicate the population of Gypsy moths in Indiana. Traps were set up around the refuge, every 2 miles. The traps have female Gypsy moth pheromones inside, that attracts the males. The traps are lined with sticky residue. Once the males enter the trap, they cannot escape.

The traps help control the Gypsy moth population 2 different ways: They allow scientists to estimate the population size of the moths in that area. If there is a high density of moths in that area, scientists can determine the best solution to eradicate them (i.e, aerial pesticides). The traps also help to suppress the population, by the simple fact, that every male stuck in the trap is one less male available to mate.

With the hard work and effort that people like Eldon Cutter put into eradicating the Gypsy moth, I hold out hope that a day will come when the Gypsy moth no longer resides in North America.

Sandy Leibhold. Gypsy moth in North America. 2003. U.S. Forest Service

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