Although it hasn’t caused severe damage in the past few years, the Gypsy Moth is a destructive insect that has been known to defoliate entire forest areas and is still considered a pest in Illinois. In urban settings the Gypsy Moth creates safety hazards when dead tree branches fall from affected trees, not to mention the diminished aesthetics of having dead trees in a neighborhood. In addition, the large amount of caterpillars that occur before the moth hatches, greatly impacts the enjoyment of spring and summer outdoor activities. The Gypsy Moth larvae will crawl on outdoor furniture, play equipment and even indoors. During periods of feeding the larvae leave a trail of unsightly excrement on everything they’ve crawled upon. It’s important to identify and manage the pest before it gets out of control.
Identifying a Gypsy Moth is relatively simple. It looks much different than other leaf feeding insects. The Gypsy Moth caterpillar has five pairs of blue dots followed by six pairs of red dots lining the back. They are also dark in color and covered with hairs. The young caterpillars normally feed during the day, while the older caterpillars feed at night. When there are large numbers of caterpillars present, the older will also feed during the day.
If you suspect a Gypsy Moth infestation, contact the Plant Health Care Department at Kramer Tree Specialists to discuss a plan of action. Several treatment options are available depending on the degree of insect development. One recommended treatment is a bacterium that is sprayed just after insect egg hatch. The young caterpillars are much more susceptible to treatment, while in the early stages. Furthermore, proper watering and fertilizing practices greatly increase the chances of your trees overcoming an infestation. A healthy tree is a happy tree.
Kramer Tree Specialists, Plant Health Care Department