Gypsy moth populations in recent years have been relatively low, leaving many forgetting what it feels like in an outbreak situation.
“There were summers in northwest Ohio when people weren’t able to enjoy their outdoor living spaces, and it was a real mess,” said Amy Stone, Extension educator with Ohio State University’s Lucas County office.
Gypsy moth populations usually rebound, and numbers build over time. Based upon a few sites in Fulton County – especially the northern portion, and conversations with others at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, numbers look to be on the rise in the area. Some attribute this growth to the natural, but somewhat unpredictable cycle.
OSU Extension in Fulton County and the ODA would like to assist in determining the whereabouts of gypsy moth in the county, and population levels at each of these sites or areas. This information is key in managing for the pest for the remainder of this year’s season, and more importantly to determine a plan for action in the future.
Gypsy moth caterpillars are hairy and have pairs of red and blue dots down their backs. They feed on over 500 different plants, but oaks are a favorite. They don’t create any type of nest or webbing while feeding in the trees. High numbers of caterpillars can eat every single leaf from even the most mature trees, leaving the tree’s canopy bare in June and July.
When preferred deciduous trees are not available, the caterpillars can feed on evergreens, generally being of concern with spruces.
Gypsy moth populations can be reported by contacting the Extension Office Master Gardener Hotline or contacting the ODA at 614-387-0907. Information about the gypsy moth, including an application for the 2019 Aerial Suppression Program, is online at the ODA website at www.agri.ohio.gov.
Note that there are requirements for the treatment, and there is a 50/50 cost share.
“At this point in the season, residents should be seeing caterpillars and evidence of their feeding damage, said Eric Richer, Fulton County Extension educator. “Trees that had leaves earlier this spring are now thinning, and some may have no leaves at all. Under the infested trees, small pieces of leaves that have fallen during feeding and small black frass or insect excrement – waste -will accumulate.”
Richer said caterpillars can be noticed moving up and down the main trunks, and can also be seen crawling on patio furniture, decks, and homes. “Reports of what people are seeing will be helpful as we access the situation in the county,” he said. “We are aware of a couple of pockets, but want to make sure we are not missing anything.”