Black flies buzzing about are providing a good work slowing the latest caterpillar infestation, but credit does not go to any human agency, Wayne County Commissioners discussed, Thursday.


Black flies buzzing about are providing a good work slowing the latest caterpillar infestation, but credit does not go to any human agency, Wayne County Commissioners discussed, Thursday.
Providing the 2007 annual report for the Wayne Conservation District, Administrator Robert Muller Jr. briefed the Commissioners on this season’s attack on foliage. While Gypsy Moth Caterpillars have not been a problem this year in Wayne County as they were in 2007, Eastern Tent and Forest Tent caterpillars continued their attack on local forests in 2008.
These two pests caused defoliation to large areas of the county. No state funds were available for spraying because they are both native species, said Muller. Many private landowners conducted their own spraying to protect their trees.
Trees were felled Monday in different sections of the county to count egg masses, Muller stated. It appears the caterpillars are on the decline. Large black flies, with a copper-colored thorax have been laying their eggs in the moths’ pupas, feeding on the caterpillar inside. As a result, instead of the moth, more flies hatch out. The flies will then disappear on their own, he said.
These flies were not released by the state, Muller affirmed.
The cool, rainy weather has also helped cut down on tent caterpillars.
What appears as defoliation along some ridge tops in the area was due to late frost in the end of May, which killed oak leaves. These trees have since been refoliating. Red maple trees are more critical to tent infestation.
Last year’s attack of the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar was met with a state spraying program. There were 2,692 acres sprayed. Assessments made last summer indicated the Gypsy Moth had declined enough so that the suppression program would not be needed in 2008.
Among their tasks, District personnel conducted 76 site inspections last year to enforce the state’s Erosion & Sedimentation Control Program, and issued 69 General Permits for such matters as small docks and boat ramps, bank rehabilitation and minor road crossings, to protect the Commonwealth’s waters.
The local District can issue permits much quicker than the state, which has a long back log. Commissioner Tony Herzog expressed concern about the wait to get state OK for a dry hydrant at the county farm.
The state’s Dirt & Gravel Road Program has been a good success, providing $1.8 million to local townships since 1999 for upgrade roads where waters were affected. Commissioner Wendell Kay noted that this is an example of a program that could have been lost had the gasoline tax been cut as was suggested to counter rising gas prices.
Much help is provided farmers. Last year 26 farmers rented the no-till seeder, completing over 294 acres. This piece of equipment does not require the ground to be plowed and harrowed before planting. This reduces soil compaction and erosion, and reduces labor and fuel costs to the farmer. It can be rented for $16/acre, with a delivery/pickup charge of $50.
Environmental education projects the District undertakes include in part, numerous school events, the Woodsmen’s Competition at the Wayne County Fair, participation at Children’s Fest and the annual Seedling Sale.
The 2008 Plat Book is available at the District office for sale, for $30. The full color map book shows individual parcels.
The stated mission of the Wayne Conservation District is to assist the public in conserving Wayne County’s natural resources through technical assistance and education. Monthly board meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month at 9:30 a.m., at the District office, 648 Park St., Honesdale. The public is invited. The office may be contacted at (570)253-0930.