Spraying for gypsy moths in Woodway gives Shoreline residents a good view

Sunday, May 17, 2020

WSDA aircraft sprayed for gypsy moth in Woodway
Photo copyright Marc Weinberg

As promised, the Washington State Department of Agriculture's plane arrived on Friday to spray Woodway, just north of Richmond Beach, for the voracious gypsy moth caterpillars.

The caterpillar of the Gypsy moth will eat its way
through entire forests
Photo courtesy WSDA

The non-native Gypsy moth is capable of defoliating thousands of acres of trees in a single year unless eradicated. Left unchecked, this invasive species can eat its way through a forest in short order. In 2017 an infestation defoliated one third of the state of Massachusetts.

Treatments occur as gypsy moth caterpillars emerge in the spring and begin to feed on vegetation. 

The WSDA plans three applications of Btk (see previous article and below) from 3 to 14 days apart. The spraying is weather dependent. Friday's spraying was delayed several hours when the morning weather was cloudy and raining.

Photo by Wayne Pridemore

672 acres of Woodway was the target, but the pilot lined up his runs over Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, then flew north to Woodway. It repeated this process several times as it moved eastward after each flight. The entire run took about 40 minutes.

Woodway was completed after two hours and the pilot flew north to repeat the spraying in the Boulevard Bluffs area of Everett.

The pilot set up his runs over Shoreline
Photo by Wayne Pridemore

The low-flying aircraft gave Shoreline residents a good view.

The treatment consists of aerial applications of a soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, or Btk, which is an insecticide approved for use in organic agriculture and in organic gardening. It has an excellent safety record around people, plants, pets, fish, birds and bees and has been used globally for decades as a safe and effective treatment for combatting gypsy moth. 

You can sign up for alerts here: WSDA's 2020 Gypsy eradication webpage.


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