Letter to Yellow Springs Council asking to reconsider

Date: April 18, 2001
To: Village Council Members
From: Yellow Springs Tree Committee
Re: Suppression of Gypsy Moth Infestation 

The Yellow Springs Tree Committee (YSTC) has since its inception in 1982 taken an active roll in planting trees on Village public land. Over this interval the YSTC has planted approximately 1700 trees. Nearly all of those trees were the result of public donations and many of them are "Tribute Trees" which were planted in the memory of relatives or friends of donors, or honoring living individuals. In soliciting funds from the Villagers we assume a sort of fiduciary responsibility for the care of the trees, shrubs and ornamental plantings. All of the volunteers who make the Tree Committee a viable organization acknowledge this responsibility. The YSTC, along with Village Council, is very concerned with the potential threat posed by the infestation of the Gypsy Moth in the Village. Accordingly, we feel that we must take every step that is environmentally responsible to protect the investment. To do less would be to ignore our responsibility to our contributors and to the vegetation at risk. We want, as does Village Council, to see an effective suppression program initiated that will reduce to a minimum the damage that will result from such an infestation. 

At the regularly scheduled YSTC meeting on March 13, several YSTC members said they had been asked by local citizens if the YSTC was going to take a position on the management of Gypsy Moths in Yellow Springs. The Committee agreed that they could not take a position at that point because they did not have enough information. A small sub-committee was established to do the research and make a report to the whole committee. 

The methods of control examined included the use of BTk, Fungus, Pheromones, Virus, and Wasp. The use of chemical pesticides was not examined as this was considered not to be a viable option. The findings of this sub-committee were presented to the YSTC members at a special meeting on April 11 at the YS Public Library to which the public was invited. After a discussion of the material presented and input from the Village Manager, Rob Hillard, related his experience with a Gypsy Moth suppression program in Allegan, Michigan, members voted unanimously to support the use of pheromones as the most effective method of suppression for us at this time. This support was based on the following:

1)Use of pheromones is specific to the Gypsy Moth and does not pose a threat to harmless moths and butterflies.

2) It would appear to be the most highly effective method presently available for control of low density Gypsy Moth infestation

3) There appears to be no evidence of pheromones being a health hazard to people, pets insects and other animals.

4) A Gypsy Moth suppression was used last year in Beavercreek without any health related complaints

5) Such a program can be implemented along with the state sponsored program in Glen Helen, Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State Park.

6) This treatment is cost effective for Yellow Springs 

Each of the other methods studied have negative features which make them not as desirable as pheromones. The virus is very effective and safe, however it is expensive at this time, availability is still controlled and it is most useful among moderate and high density gypsy moth populations. The Em fungus is very effective but there is no commercial distribution at this time. BTk is effective, but the timing is critical if it is to be fully effective. Wasps have at most a 20% kill rate and only of the outer eggs. They may also kill helpful insects and butterflies. The manual removal requirements that must accompany the wasp treatment are very labor intensive and would require a substantial portion of the community to be involved. Bob White, Director of the Glen Helen Ecology Institute, stated that for Glen Helen, he saw no adverse effects of the pheromone treatment and it can perhaps buy us several years to take advantage of new technologies resulting from current research. 

There is another responsibility that bears upon our decision. That is that Yellow Springs and our trees do not exist in an ecological vacuum. Those experts at the state and national level who have been dealing with the Gypsy Moth plague the longest have carefully tracked the mode of spread of the moths. It is evident from study of their results and the results of our committee research that Yellow Springs has a responsibility to our surrounding communities to bear our share of the burden in fighting the spread of these moths. If Yellow Springs adopts an ineffective or substandard program of control it will make the job of the other affected Greene County and Clark County communities, as well as Glen Helen, Clifton Gorge and John Bryan State park, that much more difficult. We must do everything we can to help with this statewide interdependent effort. 

The YSTC, in light of this research, requests that the Village Council re-examine its decision to not participate in the pheromone suppression program offered by the State of Ohio. We ask that this issue be placed on the May 7, 2001 Council Agenda. 

Attached is a brief summary of the results of our research. Our detailed report is on file at the Yellow Springs Public Library. 

Members of the YSTC would be willing to meet with council members to discuss the issue in more detail. Council members may also wish to attend a meeting April 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Glen Helen Building when Jim Mickey, Ohio Department of Agriculture will answer questions regarding the proposed suppression program. 


Len Gargan
Yellow Springs Tree Committee, Chair 

Lloyd Kennedy
Yellow Springs Tree Committee Co-Founder
Yellow Springs Tree Committee Technical Advisor

PS. We have just learned from Jim Mickey that the state plans to honor Village Council's request to remove Yellow Springs from their pheromone treatment area. We still request that a discussion of this issue be placed on the May 7, 2001 Council Agenda and that you reconsider your decision to refuse this treatment.