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Gypsy moth infestations stripping trees bare

Burlap and soapy water are recommended tools needed to help save backyard trees from this year’s infestation of gypsy moths.

Areas of Ontario, including Prince Edward County, are currently experiencing an infestation of the hairy blue and red dotted gypsy moth caterpillars. The adult male moths are brown and fly while adult females are larger, white and do not fly.

While in outbreak they can strip trees bare of leaves which makes them more susceptible to damage from other pests, drought and poor growing conditions.. Outbreaks/infestations often occurring every seven to 10 years and last three to five years.

The gypsy moth favours oak, birch, aspen , White Pine, Balsam Fir, and Colorado Blue Spruce.

Below are recommended actions to protect trees during each life stage of the gypsy moth:

August to Mid-April: Remove egg masses and discard. Click here to learn how
Mid-April to Mid-May: Apply biological pesticides to early stage caterpillars. Consult with your local arborist to determine what product is right for your situation.

Mid-May to June: Apply burlap bands and discard larvae. Once they are established and larger in size caterpillars will move down the tree trunk to seek shelter from heat and predators. Caterpillars will then rest on the burlap, which will allow property owners to easily remove and destroy the insects. Insects can be destroyed by submerging them in soapy water.

June to Mid-July: Remove pupae (stage between larva and adult) by hand and discard.

July to August: The lifespan of the adult moth is short lived; therefore, control methods should be focused on earlier stages.

For more information, facts sheets and how-to examples, visit the Invasive Species Centre website gypsy moth resource page on the Government of Ontario website.

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