Gypsy Moth

This insect (native to Europe and Asia) has been severely weakening trees across North America.  They get their name from their ability to travel by attaching to various objects.  They appear in late July or August.

Range:  found throughout southern Canada, across the eastern and central US.  Populations have been found in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces

What they do:  defoliates and kills large amounts of trees (mostly hardwood species), affecting the many benefits provided by trees
– during the larval stage, a single gypsy moth caterpillar can eat an average of 1 square metre of leaves
– economic impacts affect all forest users
– caterpillars may chew small holes in leaves or completely strip a canopy, depending on age and population levels

Adult Gypsy Moths: Male – brown, female – white
www.invadingspecies.com

Identification:  egg, caterpillar, pupa and moth
– female moths are white with dark markings and cannot fly
– male moths are brown and can fly
– females are larger (5cm wing span) than males (2.5cm)
– caterpillars are 5-6cm long with 5 pairs of blue dots and 6 pairs of bright red dots along their back
– egg masses are about 4cm long, tan colour and can be found on tree trunks, furniture, buildings, etc

Larva Stage: mostly past this stage for this year
www.invadingspecies.com

How to help:  learn to identify the gypsy moth during its various life stages
– as much as we love our pollinators, eliminating the adult moths this year will help to control the infestation of larva next year
– egg masses – control by removing and burning or soaking with soap and water mixture
– to control in the larva stage, folded band of either burlap or other cloth product wrapped around the trunk will provide a place for caterpillars to hide during the heat of the day.  Check these bands regularly and scrape caterpillars into a container of soapy water. Also – tangle foot applied to the trunk of trees
– keep your trees healthy and better able to ward off attacks
– SPRING – spray vulnerable trees before the buds show any green colour, with dormant oil to eliminate overwintering eggs

Female Adult laying an egg mass in the bark of a tree
www.toronto-wildlife.com

References:
– Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program
– Government of Canada, Pest control tips