Gypsy Moths on Maples

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deck chucker

New Member
I've had an ongoing battle with these creatures for years. I thought taking my gas grill lighter and burning the webbed sacs off the maples was doing a good job of eradicating the small black caterpillars in the springtime. Lately I noticed one on the house about 2 inches long. When I've looked at some of my maples one in particular is infested with caterpillars from 2 to almost 4 inches. The past few days I've probably killed 100 on that particular tree. I was just squishing them with a stick, but today I went out with my trusty torch and a spary bottle of water -just incase. The tree is really old and the bark is peeled a lot. I think a chipmunk has tunneled into the bottom, too. I think it will probably be the next tree to come down, but I'll prolong it's life as long as I can.

When I'd light the torch in a large bark gap sometimes 4 or 5 would fall out. They're at the base and up the tree. I can't see toward the canopy too well, but I've noticed a couple pretty high. I don't have enough burlap to wrap a strip around the tree and trap them that way. I haven't noticed any damaged to the canopies yet. So far I've only seen one tiny white moth so I don't think it was one. The females are white and flat and the males are the same shape and brownish. They both look like bark.

Not that they'll do anything because they haven't before, but I'll call the Co-Operative Extension Agency tomorrow if for no other reason than to just report it. If it does become bad enough in an area they will do a flyover spraying.

I hope none of you ever have trouble with these creatures. If you do maybe this will help you.
 

Kya D

Active Member
The way I handle the tent caterpillars is cut the limb with the tent on it off put it in a black trash bag, seal it and leave it in the sunm for a while then throw it away
 
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Jade

New Member
I think that the coop is a great source of info. I am tempted to invite them to my house to figure out what is going on with my yard. Maybe I will stop by there later this week to talk with someone. I am thinking that our yard is outta sorts. Maybe it doesn't like me.
 

sunflower3

Member
we check our trees every day, three, sometime five times for tent caterpillars. We collect them in jars and seal it up they will die and I toss them in the garbage.
 

deck chucker

New Member
These aren't tent caterpillars. They just eat. I know what tent caterpillars are though. My dad used to torch them off the fruit trees we had. These only make a little tan flat patch on the side of the tree when they lay their eggs. I've seen quite a few sites about gm's, but this particular one has both gm's and tent caterpillars. http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7111.html
 

Annette99

New Member
Once while hiking at Sams Point Preserve in Cragsmoor NY my group went through at least 1/4 mile of trail deep in the woods where every tree was covered in gypsy moths, they started flying around and it was like Hitchcocks movie the Birds, I'll never forget it. Went back to the same area the next year and the trees looked fine.
 

treeman

Member
Bobbi is corredct in her assesment that they are GM and not Tent Cats. Populations tend to build gradually over several years then explode to to damaging levels that Annette noticed. Usually they only last at these levels for a year two and then collapse. When these major defoliating levels of GM hit the general health of the trees in the region is important in determining the actual amount or mortatlity that will occur. If the region's forests and trees have been stressed (drought, environmental, other insects or diseases, etc.) in the years prior to the GM outbreak year then significant mortality may occur.

GM usually is either such a last straw or the first nail in the coffin by causing the initiation of stress related mortality. Defoliation weakens the trees and makes them more susceptable to other maladies in years to come. Often armellaria root rot follows and kills trees over several years, masking or accentuating the effect of the GM defoliation.

Tent catepillars on the other hand are mainly astethic problems, tho occasionally they can be present in sufficient numbers on single trees to do complete defoliations. Like GM, if the tree is under stress it may croak. Since prunus and malus genuses are pretty much the only targets it doesn't have near the impact on the environment region wide that GM does. It can tho greatly impact fruit prouction and thus have a serious economic impact.
 

Randy

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gypsy Moths were a big deal in the conifer forests of eastern Oregon several years back, Wes. And they may still be, but I don't travel over there any more and see the results. There was an ongoing battle between the lumber industry and the environmentalists. I have to side with the lumber industry on this one.
 

deck chucker

New Member
I noticed that some of the caterpillars were just hanging from the tree by one end like they were dead and then I realized they were probably going through their metamorphosis into mothdom. :) I say were because they ain't no mo'! And yesterday I saw an egg cluster on one of my fruit trees in the back yard. No damage that I could see, but I'll have to start checking them, too. I've noticed the numbers are dwindling so hopefully this maintenance is helping a little or else they're higher now and I can't see them.

The tree with the most on it has a lot of damage and peeling bark on it some of which is healing itself slowly, but the driveway is right next to the tree on one side and the septic tank isn't too far from the other. I'm sure there's compression on the roots except where the driveway is cracked. But unfortunately there's carpenter ants at the base so I'm thinking root rot again.

Thanks everyone for your input!
 

treeman

Member
Gypsy Moths were a big deal in the conifer forests of eastern Oregon several years back, Wes. And they may still be, but I don't travel over there any more and see the results. There was an ongoing battle between the lumber industry and the environmentalists. I have to side with the lumber industry on this one.

Yes they were classified as a different race, but essentially are the same critter. Conifers are generrally not the preferred food of GM, but they will eat them in absence of broadleaved trees. Unforunately confiers generally die after a single defoliation.

Randy, anyone who has lived through a GM defoliation out break generally sides with the control advocates. There were times in the past when outbreaks covered millions of acres in the north eastern US and Canada. For the better part of a century it was DDT that was the control product of choice and what kept the outbreak bottled up in New England. With DDT's demise the GM began its inexorable spread down the Appachians and westward. Any number of products and control strategies have been used ofver the years depending upon a variety of parameters.

Our area of Virginia had endured the first wave of defoliation activity when researchers came up with a very effective fungus that seems to be host specific. It proved to be quite effective and saved our oak/hickory cohort. There are now sporadic small population blips but the whole GM population dynamic is a whole new ballgame now (thankfully).

Bobbi, it won't always be bad, tho there will probably always be an endemic population of the critters from now on. The hangers you describe sounds like a virus disease that is endemic among GM populations and only expresses itself after populations be come epidemic.
 
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deck chucker

New Member
You know how my luck with the trees as been over the years so I pounced when I saw those big ones. One of the benefits of the internet seeing that they were what I thought they were and learning their habits. I've seen a couple moths the past few days, but they were females and easy to kill since they don't fly.
What's this virus you mentioned? I thought they were just ready to form cocoons. Learning more. :)
 


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