Mobile unit provides weekly services to Newaygo County residents.
From out friends at NCMH:
In 2020, Newaygo County Mental Health received a grant through the Fremont Area Community Foundation, in cooperation with the Southwest Michigan Community Foundation to start a harm reduction program for Substance Use Disorders in Newaygo County.
The Red Project has been providing harm reduction services in Newaygo County for over a year now. Recently, in cooperation with Newaygo CMH and Baldwin Family Health Care a decision was made to move from their Fremont location to White Cloud where the site will be more accessible to individuals due to the M-37 corridor.
Red Project will provide syringe access as a component of comprehensive service delivery aimed at decreasing the impact of substance use on the community of White Cloud, during the 2 hours their mobile unit is accessible here. Syringe access programs reduce the number of improperly disposed of needles in the community, as well as help those who are struggling with substance use live healthier safer lives. The Red Project also provides HIV and hepatitis testing, peer recovery services, free naloxone distribution and overdose response training. Needle disposal for insulin dependent diabetics is also offered free of charge.
Harm reduction programs are becoming common in Michigan, with nearly every County recognizing the public health benefits that happen as a result. As a result of syringe access and disposal services being available communities see a lower incidence of hepatitis and HIV infections, less visits to the emergency rooms for infections, less overdose fatality, less improperly disposed of syringes. It is important to know that people who participate in syringe access programs are 5 times more likely to engage with treatment than those who don’t. Syringe access programs not only help community members stay safe and stay alive, they also help people get support in ending their substance use.
“We must recognize and treat addiction as a health issue”, states Dr. Bruce Baker, Addictionologist and Medical Director for Newaygo County Mental Health. “While we hope that everyone will stop using illegal drugs, we recognize that we need to keep persons with addiction as safe as possible until they are ready to seek treatment. These are not strangers – they are family members, parents, children, brothers and sisters. There is a drug epidemic everywhere in this Country – if we say it doesn’t exist here, that is simply not true.”
Harm Reduction services will be offered at 126 S. Benson in White Cloud on Wednesdays from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., starting June 8. The mobile unit will be on-site on June 1, 2022 from 3:00 – 5:00 to welcome the general public to learn more about harm reduction efforts, including syringe exchanges.
“We want to be transparent and let people know exactly what services we offer”, according to Steve Alsum, Executive Director of the Red Project. “Red Project has been providing harm reduction services in West Michigan for over two decades. We’ve seen the public health impact in terms of less HIV and overdose fatalities. We’ve also seen how programs can walk alongside individuals and help them to access recovery- sometimes when they need it most. This is a needed medical service, and we are happy to expand these services to serve Newaygo County- in partnership with the local community.”
Governor pays a visit to Newaygo County
Housing, child care, broadband and water quality were among the issues on the table when Governor Gretchen Whitmer paid a visit to Newaygo County Friday to participate in a roundtable discussion held at the Fremont Area Community Foundation.
She was joined by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell and the Deputy for MDARD’s recently created Office of Rural Development Sarah Lucas and the trio fielded questions and concerns from local leaders during the one hour gathering.
Foundation President and CEO Shelly Kasprzycki opened the meeting with a welcome then invited introductions before giving way to the governor who shared some perspective on the unique challenges facing rural Michigan.
Governor Whitmer also spoke of her familiarity with Newaygo County, explaining that she had spent summers here as a child attending camp as had her daughters. “This is a beautiful area with hard working, good people who expect a fair shake and a level playing field and that’s what we’re trying to provide.”
Director McDowell and Deputy Lucas each provided information on some recent initiatives then, along with the Governor, took questions and comments from attendees.
FACF Vice President Lindsay Hager began by pointing to the lack of housing availability and related some of the efforts made by the Foundation to partner with organizations with a goal of bringing affordable housing to the area while stressing the need for further supports.
Dr. Lori Tubergen Clark referenced the child care ‘desert’ in our area and the need for child care subsidies to be restructured or expanded.
On environmental issues, Charles Chandler brought up the need for enforcement of water quality standards and Lola Harmon Ramsey thanked the Governor for the programs and grants being made available to support recycling services locally.
As the comments and questions continued the three guests responded to each as well as expanding on other topics with the Governor often taking notes while listening to the concerns.
Responding to media questions after the meeting the Governor was asked about some of the measures being proposed recently to help with inflation related rising costs, particularly in fuel.
“I was encouraged by what was done in the Senate yesterday. (A bill that would set Michigan’s per-gallon motor fuel tax rate at zero cents from June 15th through September 15th)
“My goal is to give people relief right now. People can’t wait. Some of the things the legislature passed wouldn’t have gone into effect until next year and that doesn’t give people relief. I want to give people help right now. That's what I’m interested in. That’s why I proposed a tax rebate of $500. The $400 checks for people with cars was a good thing but we need to do more and we need to do it now”
Photos by Jaime Harkness, Easton Harkness, and Nathan Ruehmeier
The Newaygo Middle School National Jr. Honor Society with adviser Jaime Harkness celebrated Armed Forces Day on Friday, May 20th. Veterans from the community were invited for donuts and coffee while NJHS students presented the history of Armed Forces Day and information about special people in their lives who are Veterans.
Veterans won prizes such as an American Flag, Branches of the Military Flags, and patriotic decorations! To end the ceremony, the Croton American Legion Honor Guard led the Veterans through the middle school while all students placed their hands over their hearts to display respect.
Newaygo High School and former NJHS member, Iris Herrera sang the National Anthem outside as we all honored the men and women who served our country.
Thank you to the Croton American Legion, Newaygo Food Service and Maintenance, Officer Rood, Iris Herrera, and Wesco for helping us with this special event!
Bailey, MI – American Classic Dumpster Company, a West Michigan service provider of dumpsters, residential trash services, and recycling and Cart-Right Recycling, a waste management & recycling provider, today announced a definitive merger agreement to enhance their waste management and recycling outreach.
The merger with Cart-Right Recycling, based in Fremont MI, further increases American Classic Dumpsters’ reach in the West Michigan area. The combination of these two entities will allow the companies to assist their customers in creating a more sustainable tomorrow. “Recycling and sustainability are the future of waste management,” said Jacob Thompson, owner of American Classic Dumpsters. “This partnership is expected to result in greater recycling and waste management efforts and efficiencies.”
“A merger was formed with American Classic Dumpsters to help Cart-Right Recycling broaden its reach in the Newaygo County area,” commented Mark Ramsey, Cart-Right Owner. “We are thrilled to partner with American Classic and transition our small recycling business into a larger service area. This will allow us to increase recycling accessibility in our rural area. By joining with the American Classic team, Lola and I will continue to work on keeping recycling alive in Newaygo County and hopefully beyond.”
The merger of American Classic Dumpsters and Cart-Right Recycling will operate under the name of American Classic Dumpsters. The merger was accomplished when the two companies realized their recycling aspirations for Newaygo County and beyond were aligned.
“We feel strongly that joining forces with Cart-Right will allow us to realize our strategic goals faster,” explained Jacob Thompson.
Cart-Right Recycling, owned by Mark Ramsey and Lola Harmon-Ramsey, began in 2005 as a residential curbside recycling provider for the City of Fremont. The recycling service has extended into Newaygo County and today is servicing all six of the county recycling drop off centers and commercial recycling routes.
For over 20 years American Classic Roofing and Building Supply has been providing exterior building material across the state for both residential and commercial projects. In 2008, American Classic Roofing & Building Supply created their subsidiary, American Classic Dumpsters, a waste division handling commercial and residential hauling. In 2022, American Classic Dumpsters began offering local residential weekly trash and recycling services.
Recent Newaygo County Marriage License Seekers
Last time we listed the folks who were applying for their license to wed we noticed a relative dearth of couples seeking to engage in tying of the proverbial knot during the last vestiges of winter.
Ah but now Spring in all its glory has arrived bringing with it the rebirth of color as the browns and grays have been replaced by luxurious greenery, a flood of festive flowers, and that familiar tinge of excitement that seems to accompany the warmer days with a promise of summer days to come.
And what better time to make a decision as to who you want to spend your life with?
Love is a truly cool thing when it's working well and the act of putting a stamp on it, making it known to all who care to know that ‘we are a couple’ is a wonderful way to honor that love.
A way to elevate it to another level.
So here are the couples who recently made their way to the Newaygo County Clerk’s office to take not a leap, but more of a dance, as they sway and spin into the next stage of their life. Together.
Miranda Myszak, Grant & Joseph Guiles, Grant
Terri Lynn Williams, Bitely & Sal Cole, Bitely
Mavis Johnson, Newaygo & Shawn McKinley, Newaygo
Rebecca Beck, Newaygo & Terry Boord, Newaygo
Brianna Norris, Fremont & Joseph Cherneski, Newaygo
Michaela Smith, Muskegon & Jacob Walthers, Hesperia
Daniel J. Miller, Newaygo & Rose Miller, Newaygo
Scott Golliver, North Muskegon & Delores LaFontsee, Newaygo
Kevin A. David, White Cloud & Frances Marsh, Grant
Symon Cronk, Newaygo & Kara Ermatinger, Holland, MI
"I guarantee there'll be tough times. I guarantee that at some point, one or both of us is gonna wanna get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don't ask you to be mine, I'll regret it the rest of my life, because I know, in my heart, you're the only one for me." -Ike Graham, Runaway Bride
From Newaygo County Sheriff's Office
On 5/20/2022, Deputies with the Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the intersection of W 44th St and S Green Ave in Dayton Township for a motorcycle versus car personal injury accident.
Upon arrival, it was determined the driver of the motorcycle, a 29- year-old male from Holton succumbed to his injuries. Speed is believed to be a factor in this accident. This investigation is still ongoing.
The Sheriff's Office was assisted by the Fremont Police Department, Fremont Fire Department, Life EMS, Jerry's Towing and Newaygo County Central Dispatch.
155-acre riverfront property donated to Land Conservancy of West Michigan for public exploration
BITELY, MICH. (May 19, 2022) -- An anonymous family has generously donated 155 acres of natural land along the glittering waters of the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River to the Land Conservancy of West Michigan.
The land trust closed on the property in mid-April and in the coming months will transform it into a nature preserve open to public exploration, establishing a parking lot, trails and wayfinding signage.
“We are so grateful to the family for choosing to donate their property so that we all may enjoy its resplendent beauty,” said Land Conservancy Executive Director Kim Karn. “They have created a profound legacy with their support for natural lands conservation.”
The land donation includes an 8-acre parcel with a house and garage that the Land Conservancy will protect with a conservation easement and sell to endow the ongoing care and maintenance of the new nature preserve.
Named Upriver Nature Preserve, the property will be the Land Conservancy’s second nature preserve in Newaygo County and its first on the shores of a tributary to the Pere Marquette River.
The preserve features 5,321 feet of the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River. The Land Conservancy has helped protect over 4,400 acres of land in the Pere Marquette River watershed by collaborating with private landowners to establish conservation easements on their properties. This preserve will be the first Land Conservancy property that offers public access to Michigan’s only undammed river, renowned for its water quality and trout-fishing opportunities.
“For the first time, visitors will be able to visit a Land Conservancy nature preserve on the magnificent Little South Branch and experience one of our region’s most beautiful river systems,” Karn said.
The property also includes a rare sand prairie. With restoration efforts led by Land Conservancy staff and volunteers, the land could provide much-needed habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly and several native species of plants, insects and birds that depend on these disappearing ecosystems.
“We are excited to add a new publicly accessible preserve to the suite of protected lands in the Big Forests & Wild Rivers focal region identified in our Strategic Conservation Plan,” said Conservation Director Justin Heslinga. “Under our management, the landscape will continue to support a diverse community of life, including bobcats, foxes, and more.”
The Land Conservancy will open the preserve to the public later this year, with details to be released on the Land Conservancy’s website. Volunteers who would like to help prepare the property for public enjoyment can get a sneak peek in July. The Land Conservancy is hosting a trail-building workday on the new preserve on Saturday, July 9, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Details for that event can be found at naturenearby.org/events.
The Right Place announces new hires, promotions in partner counties
In late 2021 The Right Place announced the debut of a new and improved model of regional economic development partnerships for participating counties across West Michigan. The new format is expected to amplify economic development efforts across the region by empowering full-time county executive directors to drive long-term growth opportunities with the support of The Right Place.
As part of these efforts The Right Place has recently hired executive directors to lead economic development efforts in the counties:
Kelly Wawsczyk has been hired as Mecosta County Development Corporation’s Executive Director. Kelly has a vast knowledge of community development and has volunteered on many committees including serving as the Chair of the Leadership team on the White Cloud Revitalization Committee and holding a seat on the Newaygo County Economic Development Advisory Committee.
Ron Maynard has been hired as Executive Director for Oceana County Economic Alliance. Ron has worked in and around Oceana County for the past 25+ years, mainly in the automotive and office furniture industries, in many roles ranging from supervision to HR to plant management.
Kristi Lucas-Zimmerman has been hired as Economic Development Director for the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce. She spent nearly thirty years in education and has been working for the United Way of Mason County as a resource coach. She has a passion for building relationships and helping the people of Mason County.
In order to support this growing team, Julie Burrell has been promoted to Regional Partner Lead, in addition to her role as the Economic Development Director for Newaygo County’s Economic Development Partnership. In her added responsibilities, Julie will lead the team, providing mentorship and guidance with the strategies and initiatives specific to the partner counties.
“As our regional footprint grows, I am excited to put my experience to work leading our amazing team,” said Julie Burrell, Regional Partner Lead and Economic Development Director of Newaygo County’s Economic Development Partnership. “Each director brings a unique skillset to their county, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish through The Right Place’s new partnership model.”
Under the new partnership model, The Right Place now serves a total of 8 counties in the West Michigan region.
Partner county leads are as follows:
Gerber Memorial celebrates, thanks nursing team on Nurses Week
Fremont, Mich., May 12, 2022 – Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial celebrated National Nurses Week, May 6-12, with treats and thank yous in many different forms. The celebration included root beer floats delivered to nurses and luminaries with inspiring words.
Chaplain Ed Arndt rounded in different areas to deliver a Blessing of the Hands, which Arndt said celebrates the work nurses do with their hearts and their hands as healers. As he delivered the blessing, Arndt read: “May your hands, your mind and your heart be blessed to bring comfort where there is pain, courage where there is fear, hope where there is despair – all with the healing touch of love. As you bring healing, may you also be healed. May it be so.”
Registered nurse Holly Spaulding of Hesperia has been a nurse at Gerber Memorial for 32 years.
“The best part of being a nurse are my coworkers, our friendships, and to know that I’m surrounded by a great team that works well together and is committed to our mission of caring for our patients,” she said. “Being a nurse is rewarding because you come into work every day knowing you’re going to make a difference in someone’s life. For anyone who’s considering a career, nursing is truly rewarding because of the positive impact you can make.”
Spaulding said Gerber’s nursing team has grown closer over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were there for each other during the pandemic, using our skills and our compassion, we pulled together as a team and that made us more resilient as a team and as individuals,” she said.
More than 139 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses work at Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, together with nearly 100 nurse techs and medical assistants.
Chamber eases access for job seekers
Many businesses in our area have struggled with finding the personnel needed to fill their staffing requirements.
At the same time many high school students are interested in finding work but school schedules (as well as athletics for some) limits the amount of time available for job hunting.
With the summer tourism season about to take flight and the need for filling positions ramping up the River Country Chamber of Commerce came up with a plan to connect the two groups in an easily accessible setting.
Here are the details courtesy of our friends from RCCC:
River Country Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Job Fair & Career Expo geared towards high school students. We are aware of the struggles our local communities are facing regarding a staffing shortage and wanted to help! What better way then to bring the employers directly to the students. They'll have time during their lunch to ask questions and fill out applications with local businesses represented. On May 17th we will be at White Cloud High School from 11:30am-12:30pm and May 18th at the Grant Fine Arts Center from 11:00am-1:00pm.
There's still time for businesses to register by calling 231--652-3068, or online at https://www.rivercountrychamber.com/events/details/river-country-job-fair-career-expo-38858
County Deeds office unveils new tool to thwart cybercrime
With property fraud and real estate cybercrimes on the increase, Newaygo County Register of Deeds Stewart Sanders is pleased to announce a Fraud Alert Service that is free to all property owners of Newaygo County. Signing up for this service will keep property owners informed of any recordings that come through our office.
Property fraud is perpetrated when someone illegally uses your property for financial gain. This happens when someone records a fraudulent document in the Register of Deeds office, making it look like they own your home or property. According to the FBI, Property and Mortgage fraud is the fastest growing white-collar crime. Your County Register of Deeds in conjunction with the land records provider has created a notification system called Fraud Alert.
To sign up for this free service use the following steps:
The way this system works is if a document is recorded in your name an email is then sent to the address you provide which allows you the opportunity to verify the authenticity of that recording. These alert systems are extremely helpful in detecting fraud.
In other news, the Newaygo County Register of Deeds office is a passport acceptance office. On the ROD website is the box labeled passports and in that text are the directions for submitting a passport application with the correct documentation. Our office is also able to take passport photos once again as we have a new updated system from which to work.
The Register of Deeds office is constantly striving to provide the best customer service experience. Currently, we are working on our webpage to provide current and timely information for our residents. Please visit our webpage and check out some of the new information! If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact the Register of Deeds office.
Newaygo, MI – Hope 101 Ministry, a faith-based nonprofit in Newaygo, proudly announces the hiring of Mike Valliere as the charity's first Executive Director. Mike will be responsible for increasing fundraising, running the day-to-day operations of the organization, and serve as a liaison to Newaygo County businesses, community groups, churches, non-profit, and civic organizations to advocate for Hope 101 and encourage their support in the form of prayer, volunteers, and financial contributions.
Hope 101 Ministry is a non-profit organization serving in Newaygo, Michigan, community. The mission of Hope 101 Ministry, with the help of God, is to provide a home-based program which offers Christian support, friendship, and direction to empower participants to reach beyond their circumstances to a place of stability and self-sufficiency.
This ministry is a relational ministry program which was birthed by Family of God Community Church and now is an independent 501(c)(3) organization. In 2015, FOGCC purchased the multiple family dwelling at 101 Quarterline in Newaygo. The Mercer family donated the home at 42 Washington in 2017. Hope 101 Ministry Inc. offers persons in need up to a six-month stay in transitional housing. Once in the home, participants work with: 1) a Case Manager, 2) the Hope 101 Program Committee 3) two mentors, and 4) other community resources as needed.
Mike has a Master of Business Administration from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Church Leadership from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. For the past 17 years, he ran a successful business in the Traverse City area. He was also a pastor for many years. In addition, he has over 25 years of mid-level and upper management experience. His wish is to combine the management, administrative and sales experience with the years of pastoral work to create ways and methods to better help the community and work with others to find ways to eliminate the number of people experiencing homelessness. His main goal is empowering others.
He is available for interviews, public speaking engagements and other opportunities to speak to the community about the vision and goals of Hope 101. If you would like to contact him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Masks no longer required at Tamarac, the Spa; still required in Spectrum Health clinical areas
Fremont, Mich., May 12, 2022 – Tamarac and The Skincare and Spa will no longer require members, customers and guests to wear masks. Individuals without masks are asked to enter Tamarac and the spa only through the west entrance of the building, where the Tamarac Bridge is located.
Masks are still required in all areas where clinical and health care services are provided: outpatient rehab, diabetes education and community health programs. Entrance to these clinical areas is through the east entrance. Masks must be worn in the lobby and hallways of these clinical areas to comply with federal guidelines. These areas are clearly marked and separated.
Individuals who feel sick are asked not to enter the building, located at 1401 W. Main St., Fremont.
Tamarac manager Amanda Irwin asked individuals coming into the building to please be mindful and respectful of these clinical spaces and make sure to mask before entering them.
Irwin said: “Spectrum Health has conducted a thorough review of our facility at Tamarac to protect health and safety and minimize risks in a mask-free environment, including observing recommended guidelines for distancing, frequent cleanings and optimum high-volume air flow. At the same time, Spectrum Health continues to require masks in clinical settings to comply with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines.”
For more information, call Tamarac at 231.924.1600. Call The Skincare Center and Spa at 231.924.7800.
Gerber Memorial golf fundraiser June 10 to support health care access, transportation
Fremont, Mich., May 6, 2022 – Spectrum Health Foundation Gerber Memorial will host a golf scramble fundraiser on Friday, June 10, at Waters Edge Golf Course in Fremont to support health care access and transportation needs among community members. The scramble starts at 9 a.m., with lunch at noon. Waters Edge is located at 1100 Ramshorn, Fremont, 49412.
Proceeds from the 22nd Annual Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial Golf Scramble will enable Gerber Memorial to offer transportation assistance to patients who do not have the financial means of transport to, from and between home and medical facilities. Expanding transportation support can help give low-income and elderly patients access to medically necessary, life-prolonging treatments that they might otherwise forgo.
The cost is $150 per golfer or $600 per foursome. Register online at give.spectrumhealth.org/gerber-memorial/golf. To participate, register by May 31, 2022.
According to the most recent Gerber Memorial Community Health Needs Assessment, travel and distance are factors for patients seeking health care. Transportation challenges present a barrier for residents who do not have access to reliable transportation or can’t afford transportation costs:
Sponsorships are also available ranging from an unlimited number of tee sponsorships at $200 and Eagle Sponsors at $2,500 to a limited number of event, beverage cart and Mutt Mulligan sponsorships. To reserve a sponsorship or questions, contact: email@example.com.
Interested candidates have until through this Thursday (May 5th) to apply
Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency announces a vacancy on their school board. Interested individuals may notify NC RESA Board of Education Secretary Laura Johnson no later than Thursday, May 5, 2022 by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. NC RESA’s next board meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 9 at 8:30 a.m., at which time we will screen and appoint a candidate to fill this position.
Community Foundation and MSU Federal Credit Union Offer Expanded Business Loan Program
Fremont Area Community Foundation recently expanded their small business loan program through Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU) to support businesses in Newaygo, Lake, Mecosta, and Osceola counties.
The Community Foundation created the Small Business Recovery Loan Program with MSUFCU in 2020 to help small businesses in Newaygo County impacted by the pandemic. Now, the Community Foundation is broadening that assistance to business start-ups and expansions as well as pandemic-related needs. Loans will also be available to businesses in the counties served by the Community Foundation’s three affiliate foundations.
“Local small businesses are crucial to the economy in our region,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, Community Foundation president and CEO. “Through our partnership with MSUFCU, we are excited to increase our support of local businesses.”
“MSUFCU recognizes the role small businesses play in communities—they create opportunities, energize the economic base, and cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurialism,” said April Clobes, president and CEO of MSUFCU. “We are pleased to partner with Fremont Area Community Foundation to provide small businesses access to affordable financing through this program.”
Through the partnership with MSUFCU, loans of up to $50,000 are available at a low interest rate. For-profit and nonprofit businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees are eligible to apply. The business must be headquartered in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, or Osceola counties.
To inquire about eligibility, start the application process, or get more information, contact Dan Wheat, community investment officer, at 231.924.7616 or email email@example.com.
N3- We all recall last year and thus the angst associated with a repeat of the infestation is running high in some circles. Here is a little info from our friends at the DNR to help our readers in prepping for what we all hope is a less than fruitful season for the seemingly insatiable scourge.
While the new name still may be unfamiliar, the invasive spongy moth, formerly referred to as gypsy moth, is well known across Michigan. In its caterpillar life stage, the insect is a voracious leaf eater.
Spongy moth populations were high last year across Lower Michigan, and many people are wondering whether the nuisance caterpillars will be plaguing their backyard events again in 2022. To find out, NotMISpecies webinar hosts brought together experts to share their insights on the invasive moth’s history in Michigan and the U.S. and what to expect this year.
Panelists Dr. Deborah McCullough from Michigan State University, Dr. Steven Katovich of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, Susie Iott of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and James Wieferich of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources together represent nearly 100 years of knowledge about the pest. Following their April 14 session, they responded to participants’ questions in a written document.
Key points from the presentation and their answers to the most-asked questions about spongy moth are summarized here:
What is the forecast for 2022?
Based on recent aerial survey data, much of northern Lower Michigan has experienced two or three years of defoliation, which typically marks the end of an outbreak cycle. Egg mass surveys in the fall of 2021 confirmed that many areas in Michigan should expect a collapse of spongy moth activity in much of lower Michigan – meaning far fewer caterpillars this year. However, a few areas like Jackson County and parts of southwest Lower Michigan had large, healthy egg masses and may have high density populations again this summer.
What causes population crashes?
The last large-scale spongy moth outbreak occurred in Michigan from about 1992 to 1996. Since then, localized areas have experienced occasional outbreaks. Suppression efforts in the 1990s have continued to keep spongy moth populations largely in check while naturalizing infestations into Michigan’s forests and urban forest ecosystems.
In 1991, Entomophaga maimaiga, a fungal pathogen found to be killing spongy moth caterpillars in the northeastern states, was deployed in Michigan. This fungus proved an effective biological control, remaining in the soil from year to year and infecting spongy moth caterpillars that come in contact with the fungal spores. Moist soils help to activate the fungus, enabling spores to disperse and affect spongy moth populations. Caterpillars affected by the E. maimaiga fungus remain attached to tree trunks and hang straight down.
Nucleopolyhedrosis virus occurs naturally in all spongy moth populations. NPV spreads through contact between caterpillars during outbreaks, causing a population crash. To determine whether NPV is at work in a certain location, look for dead caterpillars attached to tree trunks in an upside-down “V” position.
Both the NPV virus and E. maimaiga fungus can affect the same population, and dead NPV and fungus-killed caterpillars can be on the same tree.
These natural enemies of the spongy moth are now well-established across Michigan and are actively reducing populations. To date, these pathogens typically have limited the size and length of outbreaks to a couple years, eliminating the need for spray programs.
Today, spongy moth outbreaks are cyclical, peaking approximately every seven to 10 years. In these years, the virus and the fungal disease are spread more easily through dense populations, eventually causing a crash.
Do these controls affect other species?
NPV and the fungal disease have important benefits – they are specific to spongy moth populations and do not affect people, pets or beneficial insects like pollinators or insect predators. In addition, they remain in the environment, continuing to help control spongy moth populations every year.
The spongy moth NPV pathogen (virus) is species-specific. It arrived with spongy moth and has driven population dynamics for over 150 years. In lab tests, the E. maimaiga fungus was able to infect a few other species, but this has not been observed outside the lab – the timing and behavior of spongy moth caterpillars result in fungal infection in spring. Native species either can’t be infected, are not present until later in the year or have other behavioral patterns that prevent them from becoming infected.
What about spray programs?
The State of Michigan does not have a statewide spray program. Spongy moth is a naturalized pest in Michigan now. However, a few areas have long-standing millages in place to help survey and spray residential areas when needed.
Outbreaks will continue to occur occasionally in local areas and, yes, every now and then we will have extensive outbreaks like the current one. While an outbreak is not pleasant for people in an affected area, it is rarely a problem for healthy trees and forests.
What can I do if spongy moth returns this year?
First, check the spongy moth forecast for your neighborhood by looking for healthy egg masses now, before leaves expand. Healthy egg masses are larger than a quarter in size, tan or brownish in color and firm to the touch. Few egg masses and/or small (nickel-size) egg masses indicate the population is collapsing because the NPV pathogen is increasing. Old, no longer productive egg masses, like those in the above photo, are often abundant after an outbreak year and should not be counted. These masses are usually whiteish in color, may be falling apart and may have pin-size holes in the mass. An abundance of healthy egg masses suggests a heavy infestation of spongy moth caterpillars this season.
Before choosing a control method, remember that you will not be able to eliminate all the caterpillars – the goal is to reduce the density of caterpillars around your house.
To learn more about spongy moth caterpillars and options for residents living in an outbreak area, visit the MSU IPM Gypsy Moth website. The bulletin Btk: One management option for Lymantria dispar offers detailed information about Btk management for spongy moth.
Check for upcoming NotMiSpecies webinars and watch past, recorded webinars – on everything from spongy moth to invasive carp – at Michigan.gov/Invasives.