CHICOPEE, Mass (WWLP) – Gypsy Moths, or what’s now called the Spongy Moth caterpillar, were a big problem in the 1980s and in recent years they’ve been making a comeback. In parts of New England they could pose a problem this summer.
Back in 2016, the Spongy Moth caterpillars became a big problem in eastern parts of western Massachusetts. The outbreak lasted from 2015 to 2017 and resulted in 923,000 acres of defoliation across the state. Dry conditions limited the effectiveness of a fungus that helped keep their populations in check.
“You’re going to see cycles that peak up about three to four years so within in that three to four year time frame you’re going to see some significant defoliation hardwoods like oaks, maples, cedars birches they can be defoliated pretty significantly,” said Entomologist Bob Russell.
If you notice the Spongy Moth caterpillar in your yard there are some treatment options you can take to help protect your trees.
“The most commonly used insecticide, B-T which is a biological or bacterial insecticide that works very well, very effective, really low economic impacts. So we like use that and see used as the best product out there,” said Russell.
Entomologists in Connecticut have found a large amount of Spongy Moth egg masses in Litchfield County which they believe could result in extensive caterpillar activity.
While most trees do come back, the caterpillars have had an impact on the oak trees here in Massachusetts.