An infestation of the exotic European gypsy moth has been identified at Purdue University, and state officials sent out a notice urging those in infested areas not to transport firewood to other counties.
The state’s nine quarantined counties include Allen, DeKalb, Steuben, Noble and LaGrange in northeast Indiana.
Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on the leaves of more than 300 different tree species, but prefer oaks, according to a statement issued Friday by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology.
Outbreaks can cause heavy defoliation, which can stress and even kill host trees, the division said. The hairs on the caterpillars also can cause skin irritation and respiratory allergies in humans.
The new infestation falls well outside of northern Indiana counties known to have gypsy moths, the notice said. All areas known to have gypsy moths will be added to the state’s eradication program and plan treatments for spring 2014.
The DNR has placed burlap bands around selected trees to capture and count caterpillars, and installed tan-colored delta traps and green milk-carton traps in infested areas. To report any that have been knocked down or to ask questions, call 317-232-4120.
Friday’s notice said gypsy-moth egg masses, which resemble buff-colored, flattened, fuzzy patches about the size of a quarter, can be found on firewood and recreational vehicles.
Campers from the quarantined counties are asked to thoroughly check all camping equipment and vehicles for egg masses before taking to the road. Any egg masses that are found should be scraped into a bucket of soapy water.
For more information
Gypsy Moth Slow The Spread:
Purdue University gypsy moth page: