Tree implants, a gypsy moth treatment the county extension service says is "just as effective as aerial (pesticide) spraying," is available to county homeowners for the first time this spring.

The implants -- little cylindrical gel capsules -- can be inserted into the trunk of a tree where they release insecticide directly into the tree's circulation system, making its leaves poisonous to gypsy moth caterpillar.

"This system is very effective but it's not for everybody becauseit's expensive," said David Hitchcock the urban agricultural extension agent for Anne Arundel County. The implants, which are available at the Anne Arundel County Farmer's Co-op and Bowens Farmer Supply, cost about $15 for a pack that can treat a tree with a 15-inch diametertrunk.

Hitchcock said people with one majestic oak or small number of trees they want to protect will find it most useful. But those considering the implants only have a couple weeks to decide.

The implants shouldn't be used for trees used for fruit, nuts or syrup, officials say.

To be effective, the implants must be applied two weeks before bud break, which is expected at the end of April this year.

Counts of unhatched gypsy moth eggs taken in the region this winter indicate that Pasadena may be one of the hardest hit areas in the county this year.

"More of Pasadena is being sprayed by both the state and county than ever before but there are still many, many areas that fall through the cracks," said Albert Johnston, a Severna Park resident researching the implant system with Hitchcock.

Until this year the implant system was only available through private licensed contractors who charged up to $50 per tree.

Hitchcock said alternatives people should consider are sticky tape and burlap treatments, which prevent gypsy moths from climbing the tree.

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