Tree Pests

GYPSY MOTH CATERPILLARS

A Pervasive and Costly Massachusetts Problem

The gypsy moth has been a costly and persistent problem in Massachusetts since 1869, when it was first found here. This invasive pest causes trees to lose their leaves during the caterpillar stage, which occurs in the Spring.

Forest Health staff from the Department of Conservation and Recreation have completed a survey counting gypsy moth egg masses. Results show that some areas may be in for severe defoliation in 2019.

The current outbreak began in 2015, with the population increasing through 2016 and leading to over 923,000 acres of defoliation in 2017. High caterpillar mortality in 2017 led to a decreased impact in 2018 – with about 161,000 acres of defoliation statewide.

However, there was very little caterpillar mortality in 2018 and the moths subsequently reproduced at a very high rate. In many areas across the state, foresters have documented high densities of egg masses. Therefore, experts are expecting the outbreak to continue in 2019, with regionalized pockets of defoliation in Essex, Hampden, Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Worcester Counties.

To find out more, go to the Gypsy Moth in Massachusetts guide at www.mass.gov/guides/gypsy-moth-in-massachusetts.

What Do Gypsy Moth Caterpillars and Moths Look Like?

Gypsy Moth caterpillars are dark colored, hairy caterpillars with 5 pairs of blue and 6 pairs of red dots lining their back.  These are seen in May and June. White female and brown male moths are active throughout July and August.

What Damage Do These Pests Cause?

As you may know, Gypsy Moth Caterpillars love to eat the leaves of almost any tree or shrub.  Their favorite species include many of the trees that we have here in Massachusetts: oak, maple, beech, birch, hawthorn, apple, poplar and willow trees. Not only do these caterpillars make an unsightly mess of your trees (and your deck, driveway and lawn with their excrement), their feeding on the foliage actually stresses your trees.  Trees that are completely defoliated may re-foliate in 3 to 4 weeks. However, this causes the tree to expend an enormous amount of energy. As a result, your tree may be severely weakened and may even die. Removing a dead tree and/or replacing a tree can be a very expensive proposition.

What Can I Do About This Problem?
Call Ransford!

Ransford has the specific licensing and training required to effectively deal with your Gypsy Moth Caterpillar problem.  We are certified by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and have earned a MA Category 36 license – the Commercial Certification for Shade Trees and Ornamentals.

To deal with Gypsy Moth Caterpillars, we use a state-of-the-art treatment called Arborjet technology, which is fast-acting, effective, and environmentally responsible; additionally, no spraying is involved! The treatment is contained to the specific tree(s) needing attention, and there is no spraying that may miss your trees and spread into your neighbors’ yards.  Arborjet is used by the USDA Forest Service, city foresters, resorts and researchers – people who care about tree health and maintaining our natural environment.

Here’s how Arborjet works. We will inject the Arborjet product directly into the trunk of your tree by inserting a needle through a small plug (called the Arborplug) which we will implant in your tree. The material is then quickly distributed through the trunk, branches and leaves. As the Caterpillars munch on the leaves, they swallow the Arborjet material…and then they die! This plug will remain in the tree, and will keep the injected material inside the tree, with no adverse reactions. The tree will grow right over the Arborplug!

To learn more about Arborjet, here are some resources:

Timing of Treatment

We recommend a “one-two punch” to most effectively deal with your Gypsy Moth Caterpillar problem.

In May and June, we perform a fast-acting treatment, using a wettable powder, that will immediately address the problem at hand – the caterpillars that are eating the leaves and weakening your trees right now. This treatment lasts approximately 8 weeks.

Later in the year, in the September/October timeframe, we can perform an additional, longer-lasting treatment. This treatment uses a different product – a liquid – and it will take all winter for the product to work its way through the tree. This treatment will last for two years!

The Ransford Difference

Controlling Gypsy Moth Caterpillars is important, not only for aesthetic reasons, but for the health of your trees. Removing or replacing a tree is a very costly proposition; treating the tree is a much more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution.  Call Ransford Environmental Solutions TODAY for a licensed, environmentally-responsible treatment for your Gypsy Moth Caterpillar problem. Please give us a call TODAY.

Need Help with Gypsy Moth Caterpillars?

Call us at  508-756-5197  or Fill out the form and a qualified expert will get back to you ASAP to discuss your needs.

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