Gypsy moth infestation could lead to major defoliation experts | WTAJ
CENTRAL COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Cicadas aren’t the only ones heavily infesting some areas, but gypsy moths as well.
According to Dr Donald Eggen, manager of forest health with DCNR Forest Office, bugs are really bad this year.
“This is a heavy infestation, with a very, very high number of egg masses. They’ve built up pretty quickly compared to last year, ”Eggen said.
The reason? Dr Eggen says this is due to the hot, dry weather. And while gypsy moths may seem small, he says they’re a big threat.
“Right now, the gypsy moth is in its final caterpillar stage. It’s the biggest stage and they’re the ones who feed the most, ”Eggen said.
Which, he says, can cause significant damage.
“You can get a total defoliation of 250 to 500 egg masses per acre, we used to have 2,000 to 10,000 egg masses per acre. So it’s bad for the tree. Because he just took that leaf out and now the caterpillar has come in and eaten it and it hasn’t photosynthesized or made any food, ”Eggen said.
Dr Eggen says the tree may produce new leaves, but they won’t be the same.
“These leaves are not as green, they are not as efficient at photosynthesis. So now this tree is in a weakened state, ”Eggen said.
Kelli Hoover, Professor of Entomology at Penn State University says she remembers outbreaks so severe they looked like winter through summer.
“The leaves have been completely defoliated on many, many trees. And people were getting really annoyed by the piles of caterpillars piling up on their bridges. And you know, you were walking in the woods and it looked like it was raining because they were dropping insect droppings from the trees. You needed a hat, ”Hoover said.
Currently in her backyard, she says the bugs are plentiful.
“When I see them, I step on them,” Hoover said.
Instead of touching them, as she puts it, the hairs of the gypsy moths can cause an allergic reaction.
“I once had a student who worked a lot on gypsy moths in the lab and one day she took off her gloves because her hands were really bothering her and they were completely covered in rashes. I had to send her to the hospital in case she had an anaphylactic reaction, ”Hoover said.
That’s why Hoover tells people to be patient with moths.
“You know they won’t be around for very long. Maybe a few weeks, ”Hoover said.
Dr Eggen agrees that at this point no one can do anything about them.
“When we get to June at this point in the game, it’s too late, you had to do something in May. Our first day of spraying was May 10 and our last day of spraying was May 27. We had 8 spray boats and 2 helicopters, ”Eggen said.
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