How to prevent gypsy moths from invading your trees

Image Courtesy: Ottani Tree Services

A warning from arborists about the emergence of gypsy moths and their threats to trees in western Massachusetts.

It's the time of year when gypsy moth caterpillars are popping up.

"Right now in a small in-star stage, where they are actually wind blown from a thin like spider web," said Wayne Ottani, Arborist for Ottani Tree Service.

Up in the trees, at the base of a tree, or even down on the ground, basically wherever you go these little critters can be found.

"You're going to see the caterpillar, it's a dark caterpillar it has long spines on them. The egg mass are on the trunk of the trees and it's a tan, probably about an inch, inch and a half long," said Ottani.

Ottani with told Western Mass News that gypsy moths are able to cause considerable damage.

"Last year we saw devastation in Hampden and Monson where it looked like fall all season because of the defoliation from the gypsy moth," he explained.

Ottani said that the white oak trees are a gypsy moth's dream where they'll probably start nibbling the leaves off of those first.

"After they're done defoliating the oaks they move on to other trees like maples. I've seen em' in lawns, but when they start defoliating evergreen trees, they don't come back," Ottani continued.

It's not just anything green the gypsy moth caterpillars can harm, they can get you, too, causing a rash or irritation, so don't go picking them up.

There is light at the end of the tunnel because of a man-made virus used to infect the moth during it's eating stage.

"When they start to defoliate and there's nothing left to eat, they get weak, the virus sets in, and kills them off prior to the egg laying stage," Ottani noted.

When that virus kicks in, the population of the gypsy moth will drop dramatically.

Ottani said in the mean time if you spot gypsy moths the best thing to do is call a professional, because treatments are much more cost effective than turning your full grown oak into a stump.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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