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Field note: Tiny Flakes Trick Tree-Eating Moths

This July the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the DNR, will conduct an aerial application of a synthetic pheromone to slow the spread of the invading nonnative gypsy moths. The pheromone mimics the natural chemical emitted by female gypsy moths to attract male moths. Duped by the replica, the males will not find mates.

The synthetic pheromone is not harmful to other moths, fish, wildlife, or humans and is contained in a small plastic flake. Most flakes will stick to trees and even those that fall to the ground will be difficult to see.

A statewide survey confirmed 3,608 gypsy moths in 2007, a record high number of the tree-defoliating pests. Treatment in 2008 will occur on 85,000 acres of mixed-ownership land in Lake and Cook counties where the moths are most prevalent.

Learn more about these invasive pests.

Michael Kallok, editorial assistant

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