Neighbors Fight Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Invasion on Their Own

WRIGHT TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- People in a development in Mountain Top are taking on the gypsy moth caterpillar problem on their own after they say no one else would help.

Luzerne County officials used to spray for gypsy moth caterpillars ten years ago but have since canceled that program. Now, people in Wright Township are tackling the problem head on.

Gypsy moth caterpillars may be small, but they can do a lot of damage. John Hargreaves says the bugs destroy his yard in Wright Township every year. He decided enough was enough.

"We literally had to go door to door knocking on doors and asking people for money to be able to come together and come together as a group," Hargreaves said.

Nearly all of Walden Park and nearby neighborhoods will get an aerial gypsy moth caterpillar spray from a private contractor next week. Neighbors hope they'll actually be able to enjoy their time outside this year because of the spraying.

"We cut down 20 trees in our backyard two years ago. We're about to lose another tree in our yard, and we have some new fruit trees that are getting devastated again this year," said Hargreaves.

Neighbors say a more than 40-year-old oak tree died because of the bugs.

"I was fairly upset because it was a beautiful tree. It would shade the house in the summer and now after two years of the gypsy moths, it's just devastated. There's not a leaf on it," said Jim Hanlon of Wright Township.

Hanlon said the neighborhood aerial spray would only cost $75 per home.

"I was here when they did it years ago, and I don't know why they stopped. They said there's not enough money but somewhere they're going to be devastated with these trees."

People in Walden Park wish the county would chip in with the gypsy moth spraying like they used to in the past.

"As a governmental program it just runs a lot smoother than us trying to go door to door and make it happen," said Hargreaves.

The homeowners in Wright Township say they haven't reached out to the county just yet, but they plan on bringing up this issue at the county council meeting Tuesday night.