Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) is urging landowners to sign up for the Cooperative State-County-Landowner (CSCL) Spongy Moth (Lymantria dispar) Suppression Program. The program is focused on protecting the landowners’ forested acreage from devastating effects caused by the invasive spongy moth (previously called Gypsy Moth). The Eastern portion of the state may notice defoliation due to a slight increase in the population of spongy moth, especially in the areas of Morgan, Hardy and Hampshire Counties. The sign-up period runs from July 1 through August 31, 2023.
“West Virginia’s forests are one of our state’s most important resources. From tourism to our timber industry, our forests are an important economic driver,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “As we face more invasive species such as the spotted lanternfly, we hope people will take advantage of programs like these.”
The CSCL Spongy Moth Program will start accepting egg mass survey applications from landowners statewide on July 1. Application forms and brochures are available at https://agriculture.wv.gov/divisions/plant-industries/forest-health-protection/. Landowners may also obtain applications at local WVU Extension offices and WVDA field offices in Charleston (304-558-2212) and New Creek (304-788-1066). A non-refundable survey deposit of one dollar ($1.00) per acre, not to exceed $500.00, must be submitted with the application. This deposit will be applied toward payment for treatment if the property qualifies.
“The spongy moth is a non-native, invasive insect that feeds on hundreds of species of trees and shrubs, including West Virginia hardwoods,” said WVDA Plant Industries Assistant Director Butch Sayers. “Defoliation by spongy moth caterpillars can weaken trees, making them more susceptible to other pests and diseases. This treatment program helps safeguard our forests from further damage.”
The minimum acreage required to participate in the program is 50 contiguous acres of wooded land. Adjoining landowners may combine their properties to meet the acreage requirement. Once applications and deposits are received, a forest health protection specialist will visit the landowner’s property to determine if the level of spongy moth infestation meets program guidelines. A final decision to participate in the program must be confirmed by signing a contract with the WVDA by early December 2023.
For more information, contact WVDA Assistant Director Quentin “Butch” Sayers at firstname.lastname@example.org or WVDA Spongy Moth Program Coordinator G. Scott Hoffman at email@example.com.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.