Severna Park's annual war on gypsy moths is about to begin anew.
Trees in 14 Severna Park communities will be sprayed by early next month as part of the Greater Severna Park Council's private program, said Al Johnston, who heads the council's gypsy moth committee.
Johnston told the council Tuesday night that his committee is reviewing bids and will sign off on contracts within the next week or two.
He said 537 acres would be sprayed with Dimilin and 453 acres with Bacillus thuringeinsis (Bt) to kill off the pests that candevour enough leaves to destroy an oak tree in just two years.
Spraying will begin when oak tree leaves extend at least 50 percent of their fully blossomed length and the gypsy moths begin hatching. That should happen later this month or in early May, depending on the weather.
Four of the Severna Park communities will get a double dose because they're also being sprayed as part of state or county programs, Johnston said.
The county has chosen Bt over Dimilin because of concerns that Dimilin may harm aquatic life.
But both the state and the GSPC's private program spray both anti-gypsy moth poisons, avoiding Dimilin in buffers around bodies of water as a precaution. Dimilin has proved up to twice as effective in reducing the damage caused to hardwoods by gypsy moth caterpillars in the county.
The county sprays about 9,000 acres of hardwood forest every year, charging communitiesa discounted price of $13.78 an acre.
The GSPC's private program sprayed 1,000 acres last year at a cost of $30 an acre for Dimilin and $40 an acre for Bt, Johnston said.
The GSPC, an umbrella group, is serving as a shopping service, sorting through bids and deciding on contractors. Individualcommunities, however, must pick up the spraying tab, and communities must pay for a minimum of 10 acres to join the private program.
The state will spray Dimilin for free on some 10,000 acres of the most infested areas. But only two communities in Severna Park have qualified for the state program this year, Johnstonsaid.
In Anne Arundel, about 5,500 acres of oaks lost 60 percent or more of their leaves to gypsy moths last year, state officials reported.
A tree that loses 60 percent or more of its leaves in two successive years can be expected to die, state foresters say.