Western NY trees under attack by Gypsy Moth catepillars
Our local WIVB tv station just did a story on this. Apparently this year's infestation is pretty bad.They don't have the video up on their website yet, but here is an article on it.
"There are options against gypsy moths"
With Allegany State Park officials spraying about 3,000 acres of forest to help control gypsy moth caterpillars, homeowners are starting to see defoliation from the ravenous insects in their own backyards.
What can homeowners do to save their ornamental trees and other trees in their yards? It depends.
Brian Bullard, director of operations at the Jamestown office of Forecon, a forestry consultant, said the company is nearly finished with the aerial spraying of thousands of acres of forest in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties with an organic biological BT agent called Foray 48b.
“This is the first year of a buildup of the gypsy moth caterpillars,” Bullard recently told the Olean Times Herald. “Preparations for spraying a vast majority of the forests started last fall with foresters counting egg masses.”
It’s different for residential properties, which are often in cities and other areas where aerial application to control gypsy moth caterpillars would be very difficult.
“It’s very difficult as a homeowner to slow them down once they are out and actively feeding,” Bullard said.
Back in the 1980s, when gypsy moth caterpillars last defoliated parts of Western New York from 1985 to 1987, “Landowners would wrap burlap or ‘sticky foot’ around their trees,” he said.
The caterpillars often go up and down the tree, preferring the cool ground at night.
“You catch some this way, but it’s really a Band-Aid fix to a larger problem,” Bullard said.
The tactic may work for individual trees or new plantings, he added.
But what about sprays?
Bullard said the organic product sprayed from planes is generally not available for homeowner use. There are over-the-counter products like Sevin, which is an insecticide that may be used.
“You have to be careful in the application,” Bullard said. “Read the label. It is labeled against use in some areas because honey bees can take it back to a hive and kill all the bees in the hive.”
He suggested asking knowledgeable staff at landscape and garden stores for advice, knowing there isn’t a lot one can do in their backyard to fight an infestation.
“We can expect to see sporadic areas of defoliation, from light defoliation to moderate and heavy defoliation,” Bullard said. “Under normal conditions, a forest can survive defoliation and re-leaf. However, a lot of forests were defoliated by forest tent caterpillars from 2007 to 2010. Then we’ve had drought conditions for the last couple of years.
“There is a lot of stress on individual forests.”
He said with moisture levels much closer to normal this year, the stressed trees will be healthier and better able to withstand the gypsy moth caterpillar.
In high-risk stands where the trees remain stressed, however, there is the potential for heavy defoliation from this hatch of gypsy moth caterpillars.
Rick Miller, Special to The Salamanca Press