What Are All Those Moths In My Yard?

What Are All Those Moths In My Yard?

It’s July, but in some places on Cape Cod the trees look like it’s January and there is a blizzard of moths in the air. The oaks, birches and some other trees have been defoliated by the gypsy moth larvae and the brown moths that fill the air in July are the males, looking for a mate. Our phone has been ringing with customers wanting to do something about this infestation.

The problem is that right now, the damage is done. What can you do now?

Look for egg masses on trees, under outdoor furniture and on buildings. Scrape them off into a plastic bag (don’t leave them on the ground…they will still be alive and hatch in the spring) and dispose of them. Spray the egg masses you can’t reach with a good dose of horticultural oil, throughly saturating the egg mass.

Write on your calendar to spray the trees on your property as best you can in late May with Spinosad. Coating the bottom of a tree that you can reach with a hose-end sprayer is better than none at all.

Write on your calendar to place burlap bands on your trees in early June – come into the garden center next spring and we’ll get you set up with what you need.

How can you help your defoliated trees now? By watering them deeply (not by hand – use a sprinkler) under the dripline once a week.

The moths that are flitting around the air right now are males. Here is a male and female moth mating on a pine tree.

The moths that are flitting around the air right now are males. Here is a male and female moth mating on a pine tree.

Like a scene out of a horror movie, gypsy moth pupae hang in clusters on this birch tree in Sandwich. You can also see several female moths laying eggs.

Like a scene out of a horror movie, gypsy moth pupae hang in clusters on this birch tree in Sandwich. You can also see several female moths laying eggs.

Here are the female moths and an egg case. You can see that two of these females are also laying eggs.

Here are the female moths and an egg case. You can see that three of these females are in the process of laying eggs.

Trees that are defoliated should be watered deeply once a week. (A sprinkler, placed under the dripline and run for 3 hours is good. Check for local watering restrictions first, of course.

Trees that are defoliated should be watered deeply once a week. (A sprinkler, placed under the drip-line and run for 3 hours is good. Check for local watering restrictions first, of course.

Finally, pray for a wet spring next year! The fungus that has kept the gypsy moth larvae under control for many years is activated by rainy weather. We have had dry weather in May and June for two years, and this has greatly contributed to the gypsy moth problem.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Steve on July 15, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I used the burlap-and-Eradicoat treatment to ward off winter moths, but I applied it last October–not June. It seemed to have helped a bit this year.
    To fight gypsy moths, are you saying I need to reapply the burlap and Eradicoat in June? Is it too late to do it now?

    • CLFornari on July 15, 2016 at 9:01 am

      Steve – Yes, put up the Eradicoat again in Late-May early-June if you still have it. Unfortunately we’re having trouble getting it in and don’t know if this product will still be available in the future…

  2. Steve on July 18, 2016 at 10:08 am

    I bought 2 gallons last fall and still have quite a bit left over. But it’s beyond late May-early June. Would treating the burlap NOW do anything to slow down next year’s gypsy moth damage? I still plan to do it again in late October to handle the winter months.

    • CLFornari on July 19, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      No – treating burlap now won’t do anything for next year. But yes, use for the winter moths this fall.

  3. Steve on July 21, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Thanks!

    • CLFornari on July 21, 2016 at 11:03 am

      You’re welcome, Steve.

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