Gypsy moths are an invasive species that is very destructive to trees. Caterpillars “feed gregariously.” If there are enough caterpillars, they may eat all of the leaves off a tree. “Severe defoliation can reduce tree growth and predispose trees to attack from other insects and diseases.” (Source)
We prize our trees here at the farm, and we’ve had some caterpillar damage the last few years. So last week, Ellie and I spent a morning scraping gypsy moth eggs off our trees.
I had noticed some pale patches on various trees and after a close look assumed they were egg deposits of some kind. Then, articles in a couple of magazines confirmed they were from gypsy moths. A very detailed article in our community newsletter advised scraping them into a bucket of hot water mixed with bleach. And to do it by May before the caterpillars hatched.
We were already into the first week of May, so Ellie and I got busy right away. We carefully examined our trees and scraped off any masses we found. A few had already hatched, though the caterpillars were still small and hadn’t crawled away yet. I was very glad to remove them before they moved onto the trees.
We used a ladder to get as high as we could. We were careful to scrape as many of the eggs off as possible and catch them in the bucket, rather than letting them fall to the ground.
We found the eggs on many of our maple trees. I’m sure there are a few we missed, and some that were out of reach. I’m hoping that we removed enough to prevent the trees from being severely damaged.
Our community newsletter also recommended wrapping sticky tape around the bottom of the trees to catch the caterpillars, so I’m planning on doing that as well.
The article concluded, “The more people that are aware and actively working to reduce gypsy moth populations, the better overall control we will have over this invasive pest.” I hope that this post encourages you to check your property for signs of gypsy moths.
If you’re ever game for it when I had my small flock of Magpie ducks, they were the reason my trees survived the gypsy moths when all around me trees were being devestated. The ducks loved the eat the caterpillars and moths! I hope your trees survive!
Thank you for the tip. Ducks are on my wishlist, and this is yet another reason why!
Yuck!!! I have a particular aversion to caterpillars. What a great little helper you have though. She’s game for anything, it seems! Katrin’s idea of ducks sounds ideal. I would be all for delegating this revolting little task to the ducks.
I share your aversion. Last year, I was squishing them on the trees–and cringing every time. Even taking the eggs off I didn’t want them to fall on me or touch me. They just give me the creeps.