Posted in cottage life, loreeebee.ca, nature

What are Gypsy Moths and Caterpillars?

This story was posted last August…please visit the update at the end.

Gypsy Moth & Catepillar Damage

Gypsy moths, at least the caterpillars that morph into the moths, have completely defoliated many deciduous trees and devoured the tops of evergreens in Eastern Ontario.

The trees at our cottage on Palmerston Lake in Ompah, Ontario have not been spared.

What do Gypsy Moths Look Like?

First we noticed lots (more than usual) of these brown moths flying around our property…

what are gypsy moths

Curious, I googled them to see if they could be responsible for the defoliation of our trees.

Sure enough, the brown moths pictured above are the male gypsy moths.

The males fly around looking for the white, non-flying female versions to inpregnate. The females crawl on the ground, attracting the males with a sex hormone, after which the females crawl onto a tree trunk or any other vertical surface (including our garage wall) to lay their eggs.

what are gypsy moths

The eggs are enclosed in a oval-shaped, soft sac. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars crawl further up the trees to continue the destructive cycle.

what are gypsy moths
female gypsy moth with egg sac

Once we discovered what they were, my hubby went around the property scraping (the ones he could reach) the egg sacs off, letting the eggs fall to the ground for the birds and other insects to enjoy.

Perhaps we are tampering with nature, but the damage these caterpillars inflict on.our trees is incredible.

Here’s hoping the trees will recover!

Update

Fast forward to spring 2021…the deciduous trees have leaves and bright green, new growth is visible on the evergreens. Sounds good, except for the webs at the tops of many of the trees housing thousands of tiny caterpillars. Yuk!

Plan of Action

Apparently, simply knocking the egg capsules to the ground last season was ineffective. We should have destroyed them by putting them in a bucket of soapy water…

To try to break the destructive cycle of these gypsy moths, we spent the long weekend spraying the webs with soapy water.

Fortunately I have several of these sprayers for my landscaping business

what are gypsy moths

I purchased this brand at Princess Auto in Ottawa, but you can purchase a similar one on Amazon.

Stay tuned to see how successful we were with the soap treatment!