Residents concerned about this year’s gypsy moth infestation learned more about the insect and how to protect their properties from damage in the event that gypsy moths thrive next year.
Vincent Cotrone, an Urban Forester from Penn State Cooperative Extension, provided the information to about 40 concerned residents and members of the Wright Township Environmental Advisory Committee, who sponsored the Aug. 3 event.
“We’re seeing now enough survival to cause serious risk for 2016,” Cotrone said. If the weather next spring is cool and damp, fungus will be active and can kill off many caterpillars, he said. But, if it is warm as it was this year, the gypsy moths will thrive.
Cotrone began his presentation by explaining the life cycle of a gypsy moth. In July, female moths deposit egg masses on trees, stones, and other surfaces. The egg masses, which can hold up to 600 eggs, are preserved by a protective layer, a creamy felt patch that helps the eggs survive the winter.
If a property owner sees egg masses on their trees, simply scraping them off will not affect the eggs, Cotrone explained. The masses must be scraped, put in a can, and burned. This, however, isn’t encouraged because it will only affect a very small percentage of eggs. Also, in the egg mass form, the pests cannot be sprayed to kill them, that must come after the hatching stage.
When the egg masses hatch, in April and May of the following year, the caterpillars begin feeding on foliage. Many float through the air by wind, or go through “ballooning,”