(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The National Forest Service is planning to treat portions of the Allegheny National Forest to control the spongy moth population.

The Forest Service is teaming with the Department of Conversation and Natural Resources for the project. A contractor will use a helicopter to apply Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki (B.t.k.), a naturally occurring native bacterium.

Some 11,874 acres will be treated. According to a Forest Service news release, most of the treatments will occur in “little-visited, heavily forested areas.”

The treatment also will be applied to public recreation areas including, Jakes Rocks Mountain Bike Trail, Morrison Hiking Trail, Tracy Ridge Hiking Trail and Tracy Ridge Campground. The treatments will be focused on oak forests that were heavily impacted by spongy egg moths in 2021.

Treatments are weather dependent and are expected to take place during the last two weeks of May and into early June.

According to the news release, B.t.k. is not considered toxic to humans, wildlife, fish or other biota. The bacterium is used in organic farming. Spongy moth caterpillars eat the B.t.k. and die a few days later.

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The spongy moth was formerly named “gypsy moth,” but was recently renamed.