“Let’s all take a breather and enjoy the summer” worst of gypsy moth caterpillar infestation is behind us

County Forrester Graeme Davis says your trees should bounce back just fine

The gypsy moth caterpillars that have been plaguing your trees won’t be an issue much longer.

“I would suggest to folks relax and enjoy the rest of the summer. There’s really nothing to worry about at this stage,” said Graeme Davis, Forester for the County of Simcoe. “All the damage has been done that’s going to be done.” He says residents need not worry about removing gypsy moth pupae from their trees or take any preventative steps before they become moths.

Davis adds any pheromone traps you’ve seen advertised won’t be of much help either. “I think it’s important to let people know that, really, there’s no evidence that there’s much benefit to those types of traps. So, investing in those is really not recommended from a control standpoint.”

While this year’s caterpillar infestation has likely left trees looking pretty bare, Davis says they’ll likely recover. “A defoliated tree is not necessarily a dead tree,” he said. “I’d still recommend that folks don’t run out and cut them down right off the bat. It’s still possible that they will recover and flush next year. You really won’t know for certain until the growth phase next year.”

However, he adds there are some steps we could take if the rain ever ceases. “One of the things that could be done, if and when we get into another extended dry spell, would be to try to reduce the stress on our trees through a bit of watering.”

Back when the infestation was really taking hold in our region, Davis told Barrie 360 he was watching for signs of an illness that would bring down the number of insects for us. And that’s exactly what happened. “It was late in the defoliation stage,” he said. “If folks went out to their trees, they may have noted, over the last couple of weeks, a fair number of dead caterpillars.”

Even with the caterpillar population affected by disease this year, there’s no real telling yet what effect it will have for next year. What will give us an indication of what next year will look like is the size and number of egg masses throughout. “The male moths are the ones that fly. The females are quite heavy, laden with eggs. They don’t fly, but they lay those egg masses on the sides of the trees, or your house, or the leaf matter on the ground, any number of different places,” said Davis. “That’s what we’ll be looking at when we’re doing our surveys later on this year… the numbers and the size of those egg masses, that’ll give us a good indication of what we’ll be seeing next year.”

“Again, let’s all take a breather and enjoy the summer, and we’ll see what happens,” concluded Davis.

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