Gypsy Moth

The 2009 Gypsy Moth Program in Byram Township

New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDOA) has the statutory responsibility and authority to control gypsy moth outbreaks in the state. All spraying for gypsy moths, except what is done by a property owner on their own property, is regulated by the NJDOA.

Last year after a lull of several years, several Byram Township communities experienced a gypsy moth infestation and brought the situation to the attention of township officials. An infestation resulting in defoliation has actually got to occur before the municipality can ask the NJDOA to act. Thankfully, trees can withstand a couple of years of defoliation before succumbing.

In order for the NJDOA to act, an on-site survey of egg masses has to be conducted and a minimum of 500 egg masses have to be observed on at least 50 contiguous acres of forest.

In the fall of 2008, the NJDOA ground survey was conducted and the minimum infestation was found on 69 acres in Forest Lakes, 41 acres in Lake Lackawanna and 62 acres in West Brookwood. In addition, portions of Cranberry Lake/Allamuchy Mountain State Park also showed infestation.

At the recommendation of the Environmental Commission and the township manager, the Byram Township Council has approved a 2009 budget line item for $10,400 to participate in the aerial spraying of the affected areas in May just after the leaves appear.

The actual aerial spraying will be done with notice to the above mentioned areas. New Jersey uses B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) which is a bacterium that kills the gypsy moths on ingestion.

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In years past when there was the threat of an outbreak of gypsy moth, neighborhoods that didn’t meet the 500 masses/50 acres pooled their own resources and hired a local tree service to spray their own properties. When done that way, it was done at a nominal cost per property owner.

The bottom line is that the New Jersey Department of Agriculture cannot get federal funding for aerial spraying unless the 500/50 is observed on a survey and that can only occur AFTER a defoliation has been experienced.

Please keep the township informed this summer if you experience a gypsy moth outbreak so the survey process can go forward this fall.

Lake Lackawanna

photo by Joyce Bambach