Graphic courtesy W.Va. Department of Agriculture

WVDA proposes 16,000-plus acres be treated for invasive spongy moth pest

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA), in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, has proposed the treatment of 9,679 acres in Wirt and northern Roane Counties and 6,960 acres on the Mingo-McDowell County line to slow the spread of spongy moth (formerly gypsy moth).

Spongy Moth is an invasive pest that feeds on hundreds of North American plant species and can lead to widespread defoliation when feeding in large numbers. Efforts to reduce its impact and spread have been a long-running and successful federal and state agency-integrated pest management program.

In Wirt/Roane Counties, the treatment is in two areas, one being between Peewee on Garfield Road and Lucille on Rt. 14. This area encompasses 5,879 acres. The second, is east of the town of Palestine, consisting of 3,800 acres. The treatment area in Mingo/McDowell is one treatment area and is 3.5 miles south of Gilbert and continues southeast towards the town of Iaeger with Longpole Creek representing the center.

The Slow the Spread Project, a national program between individual states and the U.S. Forest Service, will apply the treatments. Treatment would take place in June 2024 and be a mating disruption known as SPLAT (Specialized Pheromone and Lure Technology). SPLAT utilizes an organic, non-toxic, biodegradable formula the consistency of hand cream, applied by aircraft. The product contains the pheromone of the female moth, overstimulating the male moth, making it difficult to locate actual females, thus disrupting the mating cycle. The product is specific to spongy moth, made entirely of food-grade materials, and does not impact other insects, mammals or the surrounding environment.

Public scoping meetings will be conducted in Wirt County on Nov. 14 from 7- 8 p.m. at the Elizabeth Fire Department and on Dec. 6 from 6- 7 p.m. at Iaeger town hall.

For more information, contact Andy Stotts, Slow the Spread Program Coordinator or Timothy Brown, Director, WVDA Plant Industries Division at 304-558-2212.

For more information or questions, contact Beth Southern at 304-558-3708 or

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