City Takes Aim At Worms

ST. MARYS — St. Marys City Councilors Monday night gave the OK to start the first phase in eradicating a furry nuisance found across the city.

A handful of residents from Beech, Weston and Vine streets appeared at the city council meeting to discuss a recent infestation of fall webworms. The insect, whose nests can be found throughout the city, are concentrated in the area around Weston Woods.

“I am infested with webworms,” Patty Mabry, of 428 S. Vine St., told city councilors. “I have millions of them.”

Mabry said she noticed a few earlier last week but the population exploded Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Mabry sprayed Raid around her home to keep the furry critters from entering her residence.

“I have nothing left,” Mabry said. “They ate up all my flowers.”

Mabry, along with her neighbors, asked if the city could take up the issue. St. Marys Safety-Service Director Tom Hitchcock said the city is bringing in an exterminator today to spray Weston Woods. He noted he would need council approval to spray on private property.

“I would recommend we do the ground stuff because some of these houses have them 3 to 4 inches deep around their foundation,” Hitchcock said. “Those caterpillars came from Weston Woods — you could see them dropping. My problem is how far do we go? It’s up to council to decide because we have these nests all over town.”

Hitchcock acknowledged the Weston Woods area has been the hardest hit with the infestation. In order to treat private property, residents will have to sign a waiver regarding liability issues. The chemical being used by the applicator is called “Conserve.” The cost is $1.50 per gallon and Hitchcock said it comes in 600 gallon tankers.

Council President Dan Hoelscher recommended officials treat any affected area in the city to prevent further infestation.

He encouraged residents to report any signs of infestation to the city office by calling 419-394-3303.

“With as quickly as these things are spreading, if they are going to start spreading elsewhere, and you’ve got reports of them, I would think now would be the best time to deal with it. Not in another month. In another month they are going to be in the ground again.”

Hitchcock said the applicator recommended an in-ground injection in the spring to kill any remaining worms. Councilors approved a motion to allow Hitchcock to purchase up to $5,000 of the chemical to treat the affected areas. If further action is needed, councilor could hold a special meeting.

Residents can sign a liability waiver by stopping in at the city office at 102 E. Spring St. Officials also noted they would approach residents to sign the waiver before spraying their properties. More information also can be obtained by calling the city at 419-394-3303.

Hitchcock also noted a representative from the health department told him there was no health risk associated with the worms.

Hitchcock also inquired about the future of Weston Woods. Hitchcock asked if residents in attendance opposed a thinning out of the woods — no one voiced any opposition to the plan.

“It’s been a sore spot for years because we get so many complaints about it,” Hitchcock said.

In other business, councilors:

• Approved the third and final reading of an ordinance amending the city’s codified ordinances.

• Approved the third and final reading of an ordinance regarding the collection costs of unpaid taxes.

• Approved the first reading of an emergency resolution authorizing the chamber of commerce to obtain a liquor permit for a beer and wine tasting in Memorial Park as part of the Walk with Nature.

The electric committee is scheduled to meet at 5:15 p.m. Aug. 15 to discuss the possibility of trapping squirrels. Hitchcock said the recent spike in minor power outages have been attributed to squirrels tripping lines running from homes to power poles.

The next meeting of the St. Marys City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 22 at the city building located along East Spring Street.