If you’re not a local expert, the mention or notion of the Gypsy Moth may sound unfamiliar. But they are as common as acorns and this year even more so because of our dry summer season. Locals may have been seeing their own beech, maple and oak trees somehow withering away, and here’s why:
- What are Gypsy Moths? Gypsy Moths are also known as Lymantria dispar dispar, the the European gypsy moth or North American gypsy moth.The moths are harmless to humans but the caterpillars that later become Gypsy Moths are well known, invasive and adept at eating away at almost all leaves they come into contact with.
- What are their eating habits?
- There are few leaves that Gypsy Moths don’t like. They are known to strip entire trees of their foliage, through the trees can potentially grow back their leaves after stripping.
- Why are they harmful? The Gypsy Moth loves to eat the leaves of over 310 species of local trees and shrubs. The caterpillars eat so often that they actually defoliate entire trees, eating away at all of their leaf surfaces. This is a process called ‘defoliation,’ and can eventually kill the tree.
- What can I do? Wrapping trees around the base with duct tape with the sticky side out can help trap the caterpillars, but may also accidentally trap birds. Place chicken wire around the base of the tree where the tape is placed. That will help protect the birds from becoming stuck.
- Is it harmful to kill Gypsy Moth caterpillars? No. They are an invasive species, and chickens and guinea hens generally love to eat them. They eat foliage and some flowers, inhibiting the growth of other flora.