New Castle News

Closer Look

February 12, 2014

County looking to take down pesky insects

NEW CASTLE — Lawrence County government is addressing the eradication of pesky members of the insect world.

The commissioners say they plan to vote next week to approve an application for a West Nile Virus control grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Janice Hassen, county cooperative extension director, said this is the 11th or 12th year for the grant in the county. The county expects $44,571.

Not every county gets West Nile funds anymore, Hassen said. However, the virus is still found in mosquitoes in Lawrence County requiring an active program to combat it.

Lawrence County had 13 West Nile virus incidences in mosquitoes last year. No cases were reported in humans, birds or other animals.

Hassen said the surveillance — trapping and testing of mosquitoes in areas of high mosquito population  — will begin May 1. If West Nile is detected, more surveillance will be done. If more is found, the area will be treated.

“We thought it would go away, but it hasn’t,” Hassen told the commissioners.

Early spraying of areas where West Nile is detected keeps the populations down, “because once they explode, we have a problem,” she said.

The county hires private contractors with backgrounds in pest management to do the surveillance work, Hassen said.

This year’s allocation will include an additional $1,200 for education, Hassen said, noting that money will be used to post signs about the program on New Castle Area Transit Authority buses.

She stressed that the program is of no cost to the county government.

The extension office also recently hosted a gypsy moth workshop for local residents. The moth is threatening to make a return to Lawrence County and defoliate thousands of trees in its path.

Hassen said fewer than 10 property owners attended the meeting and none had enough trees affected to include the county in a spraying program.

County administrator James Gagliano said he notified state officials that the county would not participate in the gypsy moth program this year.

If the problem worsens, Hassen said, the county will get back into the program.

She noted that the gypsy moth is pervading Moraine State Park in Butler County.

A third bug that has been a local nuisance is the brown marmorated stinkbug, which according to Hassen, has been indestructible, despite spraying efforts.

The bugs, which attack fruit crops, can survive subzero temperatures by creeping into the warmth of people’s houses.


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