gypsy moth on tree leaves

All homeowners with trees on their property know there are countless insects and diseases that can damage or kill a tree, and gypsy moths are no exception.

From time to time, a large outburst of gypsy moths caused by a population boom occurs in Ontario, wreaking havoc on plant life.

Although native to Europe, this invasive moth has made its way into North America and has been posing a significant threat to Canada’s forests, biodiversity and economy ever since.

The good news is that these moths can be stopped, albeit in small areas such as your lawn, using specific preventative measures. Continue reading to find out more about the danger gypsy moths pose and how to get rid of them.

What Are Gypsy Moths and Why Are They Dangerous

Chances are if you’ve spent any time outside this spring, you’ve seen an abundance of caterpillars covering trees and benches.

For the second year in a row, Ontario has been flooded with the number of gypsy moths, but the question is “ How dangerous are they?”

gypsy moth closeupThese destructive pests feed on hundreds of species of trees, the most common being oak, maple, spruce, elm, and apple. In addition to damaging trees, gypsy moths can also destroy your lawn by feeding on smaller plants.

The most harm is caused during the larvae stage, ravaging plant leaves and trees. Once fully grown, they stop eating plant life, their sole purpose becoming to reproduce.

A single moth can eat an average of one square meter of foliage, making it difficult for trees to recover from the defoliation, especially if the tree is already weak.

Leaves play a major role in the food production of trees, converting light into food by photosynthesis, so when the leaves are being eaten, not enough nutrients are being made. Although trees can produce a second crop of leaves, severe defoliation can prevent it from happening.

It can be fairly easy to identify gypsy moth caterpillars, as they have distinct features. Check for pairs of red and blue spots along their back, in addition to long dark hairs on the sides.

Preventative Measures Against Gypsy Moths

These pesky insects are found in large populations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get rid of them.

Start by cleaning your yard of dead branches, stumps, and discarded items, basically anywhere a female gypsy moth can lay her eggs.

That being said, look for any egg masses and destroy them by either scraping them and putting them in a container of soapy water or burning them. Be sure not to scrape the egg masses and leave them on the ground, as they will still hatch the following spring.

gypsy moth egg masses

When the caterpillars are still young, biological pesticides can be sprayed onto the tree the larvae are inhabiting.

If there is a small population of caterpillars, you can handpick them and place them in soapy water or crush them. The long hair on the insect can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, so be sure to wear gloves when picking them.

You can also wrap burlap banding and fencing on the trunks of host trees to prevent caterpillars from climbing the tree and reaching the foliage. Be sure to check the trees daily and remove any gypsy moth caterpillars trying to climb.

By early to late August, most of the caterpillars would have turned into moths, which is when you should place moth traps on the trees. Since female moths cannot fly, they send out pheromones to the male moths, who will become attracted to the trap.

Protect Your Lawn and Trees With Hunt Club East

Trees are a prized part of a home’s property, providing a beautiful landscape and supplying several great benefits.

It would be a shame to have your beautiful trees get defoliated because of a few pesky caterpillars. Populations of gypsy moths have been skyrocketing, reaching innumerable numbers, which haven’t been this high in decades.

Our lawn care professionals are here to help you get your lawn back to its prime with our gypsy moth prevention services.

We are dedicated to delivering the best possible results that are sure to put an end to the wreckage and havoc these moths have caused.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our lawn and tree protection services and get a free, no-obligation quote today.