- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The U.S. Forest Service hopes to slow the march of destructive gypsy moths in Virginia by disrupting their love lives.
Officials have proposed spreading pheromone flakes that mimic the female gypsy moth's scent over 54,000 acres in Bland, Wythe and Pulaski counties next year, thereby driving male gypsy moths to distraction.
"The male gypsy moths just become confused," said Nancy Ross, Forest Service team leader in Roanoke. "They just fly around, not knowing what to do. It makes it really hard for them to find females."
The Forest Service has used the technique before, but never over so large a single area, said Dee Dee Sellers, a gypsy moth suppression leader in Harrisonburg.
"We've treated some pretty large tracts before, but this is the largest area we've ever treated in Virginia," Ms. Ross said. "In Ohio, we've treated up to 50,000 acres, but we don't know of any treated area bigger than this."
The cost of the project could reach $1.6 million.
The land the Forest Service wants to lace with the pheromone next spring and summer comprises 34,300 acres in the George Washington and Jefferson National forests, plus 19,700 acres of privately owned adjoining land.
The plan comes at the end of a year that saw a dramatic increase in the damage caused by gypsy moths in Virginia. This year, the moths defoliated more than 440,000 acres, up from 71,000 acres the year before.
Gypsy moths have steadily chomped their way south through the state's forests over the past decade, and the front line of their invasion is now just north of Roanoke.
Pockets of infestation usually appear ahead of the front line, she said, and the Forest Service targets those areas for treatment.


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