MDA to start gypsy moth fight in Ely

Exact treatment date will depend on weather and moth development

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is preparing to treat approximately 570 acres near Two Harbors and 565 acres in Ely to eradicate gypsy moth infestations detected last fall. Officials will conduct the treatments starting sometime between June 1 and June 15, with the exact date determined by weather conditions and caterpillar development.
In 2015, MDA’s trapping program identified these two isolated pockets of gypsy moth in the northeastern part of the state. Because of their locations, officials believe the gypsy moths likely arrived at the Ely and Two Harbors sites because of human activity.
To eradicate the moths before they spread, officials will conduct two aerial applications of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk) over the same area, spaced 7-10 days apart. Btk is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved bacterium with very low risk for humans or animals other than caterpillars. Btk is widely used within the organic gardening community. Over the years, MDA has eradicated gypsy moth infestations on thousands of acres across the state using this method. These efforts protect forest health, property values and the state’s tourism industry.
Gypsy moths are among America’s most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage to Eastern forests. The moths are now threatening Minnesota. If present in large numbers, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest. Oak, poplar, birch and willow are among their preferred hosts. The moths spread slowly on their own, but people can unintentionally help them spread by transporting firewood or other items on which the moths have laid their eggs.
To help area citizens stay informed, the MDA has set up an Arrest the Pest Info Line at 1-888-545-MOTH. The info line will offer the latest details about treatment dates and times. MDA’s website ( also has information about gypsy moths and control efforts. Finally, MDA offers the following tips to residents in and around the treatment area:
For the moth treatment to work, it must begin early in the morning. Treatments may begin as early as 5:00 a.m. Residents may be awakened on that day by the noise of the low-flying airplane. MDA apologizes for any inconvenience;
The airplane noise may spook pets, so residents may wish to keep them indoors during the treatment;
The treatment product has no known health effects for humans, but to avoid it residents may wish to stay indoors during the treatment and keep windows closed for a half hour after application; and
The residue does not cause damage to outdoor surfaces. However, soapy water will remove any residue on outdoor items.
Details of treatment area:
Ely - The northern edge of the boundary starts just north of the intersection of East Camp Street and 2nd Ave East and runs roughly parallel to East Madison Street. The western edge of the block follows 2nd Ave East south to Lookout Ridge Road. The eastern edge starts at the intersection of North 14th Ave East and East Madison Street running 1.1 mile south. There are no state or federal lands within the treatment block. (Go to and type in “Ely” for a map of the treatment area.)