swarm of gypsie moths

Gypsy Moths: All You Need To Know

The European Gypsy Moth is an invasive insect originally from France. In our area, they tend to cause trouble in the late spring, when the caterpillars start to feed on trees. You may have noticed bare / dying oak, maple, apple, and birch trees around the area, riddled with tiny holes and dangling caterpillars.

Many Rochesterians have taken to DIY and Amazon purchases to try and combat the moths- however the solution is actually in treating the interior of the tree.

Invasive and Destructive

If you’ve experienced gypsy moths first hand, then you understand how large of a scope of destruction they can have. We are currently in a gypsy moth outbreak– a word a bit too colloquial after Covid-19. About every 10 years you’ll notice an increase in their population, which can have extreme adverse effects in the local environment. The young caterpillars will eat the trees’ leaves until it’s bare, a process called defoliation. Shaded trees and those with larger leaves are most at risk. While many trees can withstand defoliation for a year or so, continued defoliation leads to an increased likelihood of diseases and more pests.

Years of defoliation can also kill a tree.

While some trees may survive a moth outbreak, certain trees, like Evergreens, are at a greater risk of death by gypsy moth. Evergreen trees are different in that they do not regrow their leaves every year, making gypsy moth outbreaks more dangerous for their population; a single year of defoliation can kill them.

How to Treat Gypsy Moths

Our licensed technicians follow the guidelines and recommendations of the DEC for New York State. There is no easy solution for these moths, and a simple spray will not reduce the population or prevent an outbreak. It is also in many insecticide guidelines that a product can only be used on man-made structures, of which trees are not included. So what exactly can be done?

Barriers are an extremely eco-friendly and affordable option to keep your trees safe. It can even be done on your own! However, it is important these barriers are applied to your trees early in the season, before the population increases beyond a few larvae. Sticky bands can be placed around your tree in early April and the DEC has even made a How-To Guide! After the initial start of the lifecycle, it is recommended to cover the trunks in burlap, to prevent them from migrating to the leaves. However, this is not the most effective form of treatment and requires a lengthy set up process and upkeep.

Tree Injection is the tool we use at Lady Bugs. Our technicians have been recently certified in both plant and lawncare treatment. Before treatment, we will come to your home for an inspection/estimate. The technician will assess all of the vulnerable trees in your area, measure the trunks’ circumference, and provide a quote for a year-long treatment that will both prevent and kill gypsy moths. The amount of preventiveness vs controlling the population will depend on when in the season you schedule treatment.

An Early Spring or Late Summer treatment will act as a preventative for next year’s lifecycle. Treatment done late spring or throughout the summer will begin to control the existing population, while preventing next year’s. We highly recommend scheduling an inspection before Mid-April, or after summer during the warm fall months.

The kind and application of the insecticide we use is unfortunately not consumer-grade, and a license is needed to handle these products. Our certified technician will inject the solution into the trunk of the tree using a very specific instrument regulated by the DEC. The solution injected is under a year-long warranty, meaning it should stay within the confines of the tree and work for about 12 months after the tree was initially injected.

We can’t wait until we can share everyone’s testimonials with you!

Think you have gypsy moths? Give us a call to speak with our gypsy moth expert, or to schedule an inspection today!

If you’re not sure if you’ve had gypsy moths, here are signs to look out for:

  • An abundance of caterpillars around your property. They can grow up to 2 inches and tend to hang and dangle off of trees, gutters, etc.
  • Small holes in the leaves (beginning of spring)
  • White egg masses on the base or limbs of your tree
  • Extremely bare trees during a typically high-foliage season
  • Tear-dropped shaped brown pupae

Are you prepared for next season’s life cycle? Share your thoughts below!

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