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Thread: Calling all Gypsy Moth Experts!!!

  1. #1
    Senior Member grouseking's Avatar
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    Calling all Gypsy Moth Experts!!!

    I took a walk today and I noticed that there were some maples that looked like they were being taken over by gypsy moths. I was wondering.....isn't it a little early to be seeing these things? I don't remember them around last year until mid summer. I live in southern NH, if that matters. Here is a pic that i took gypsy moth . Could this be a very bad year for our trees?

    grouseking
    Last edited by grouseking; 05-04-2006 at 08:03 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member snowshoe's Avatar
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    Typically it is a little early but that is due to the mild winter/early Spring. Everything seemed to pop out early this year. I think it is going to be one of the worst years yet. I could not believe how many nests I have seen while hiking yesterday. It has been years since I last saw so many. Unless we get a good cold spell our trees are going to get hit hard.

  3. #3
    Member MikeM's Avatar
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    What you have seen is eastern forest tent caterpillar nests and yes they are usually active now waiting for foliage to emerge on their desired host plants. They love cherry trees and from your pictures it looks like they are on either choke or black cherry stems. While they can be destructive on individual apple and cherry trees they do not cause the widespread damage that gypsy moth is capable of.

  4. #4
    Senior Member kerry13's Avatar
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    My recollection from 25 years ago, when gyspy moth hit northern Mass very hard, was they don't form nests. The eggs a laid by the females the previous year and they look like light brown fuzzy spots, like fungi. on the trees and other surfaces. When you scrape the spot off there are thousands of eggs, very hard, almost clear and they best destroyed by placing them in a can a burning them. They are voracious eating machines and that's all they do, besides defecate. They build no nest. Walking through the woods you can hear them munching away and everything gets covered in little green feces. They are a nuisance and very destructive. Last predicitions I saw for this year were for spotty outbreaks in southern New England and further west, but I heard of nothing for this area.

    I wonder if those nest are even tent catipillars. We have tent catipillars around here but they don't start becoming noticeable till late summer. This would be very early for them and I have seen no evidence of tent catipillar nests in my area which is only 30 miles south of you.
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    Senior Member spencer's Avatar
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    Take a look at the Forest Service page for gypsy moth. It's about the best around.

    MikeM is right on and I think it's choke cherry (Prunus virginiana)

    spencer

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    Senior Member Rick's Avatar
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    I agree - Tent Caterpillars.
    They are larvae for moths. they don't really harm anyone, but they can defoliate trees pretty quickly.

    We used to handle a lot of Tent Caterpillars back when I was in the Pest Control Business. We used plain Malathion, for heavy infestations. For smaller infestations, you might be able to cut the tents/branches out of the trees - especially smaller trees.
    I have also seen quite a few down here in PA this year already. When I lived in Western NY, we usually didn't see them until June.
    Rick

  7. #7
    Junior Member oswegatchie's Avatar
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    Kerry wrote:
    "I wonder if those nest are even tent catipillars. We have tent catipillars around here but they don't start becoming noticeable till late summer. This would be very early for them and I have seen no evidence of tent catipillar nests in my area which is only 30 miles south of you."

    Kerry, you're thinking of fall webworms, which are a pest different from both Gypsy Moths and Tent Caterpillars. You're right, they don't appear until late summer. They prey on a wide variety of trees, but are not particularly partial to cherries like tent caterpillars are. They do damage, but generally do not cause their host trees to die.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mark Schaefer's Avatar
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    As already mentioned they appear to be either Eastern or Forest Tent Caterpillars.

    A few references that I posted in a Catskill Defoliation thread last year:
    They usually appear by mid June in the Catskills (per a 2004 thread), but likely will be earlier this year. The Esopus Creek valley along Route 28 is the hardest hit area, and they are spreading further into the northern Catskills each year. This may be the worst in the Catskills, and then they should start to decline as they eat themselves into oblivion. For the most part there should be no lasting damage to the forest.
    Last edited by Mark Schaefer; 05-05-2006 at 02:24 PM.
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    Senior Member arghman's Avatar
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    I noticed a lot of moth cocoons on oak trees & a lot of flying moths (probably includes many other species though) in a few spots in the NJ Pine Barrens this week, got me a bit worried as to this year's outbreak.
    --Jason
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    Senior Member Jim lombard's Avatar
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    The tent catapillars love oaks and each year I have to go out and remove the nests, as long as you do it early it's not too bad. They'll completely strip an oak of it's leaves and then move on if you don't kill them early. I disagree that they don't do any lasting damage, it puts allot of stress on a tree to lose all it's leaves early on in the season.
    But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.

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  11. #11
    Senior Member Mark Schaefer's Avatar
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    The forest tent caterpillar is a native pest that peak for a few years in a recurring 12 year cycle. Many trees on the edge of viability may die, but most seem to rebound after the few years of meager growth caused by the infestation (as mentioned in this article from last year). The Catskill forests also rebounded after the devastating Gypsy moth wave (early 1980s IIRC), although many individual trees died. Oak, maple, and cherry are among the hardest hit trees in the Catskills.

    As always the impact will vary. I also would heed Jim's advice if a tree on my property was at risk - one of the trees that dies might unfortunately be your own.

    I also found another 2006 report from U Mass. Apparently the forest and eastern Tent caterpillars different species.
    Last edited by Mark Schaefer; 05-05-2006 at 02:25 PM.
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    Senior Member Whiteman's Avatar
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    More on those Eastern Tent Caterpillars

    The tent in your picture is just so distinctive, in shape, size, and timing. Now all they need is a few leaves. Check out more details on the Eastern Tent Caterpillar.

    The gypsy moths don't make those little tents. Here's a great site on those miserable critters: Gypsy Moths . Not only are they ugly and bad to trees, but their adults (the moths) aren't much to look at either. Look at this ugly mom laying her eggs:



    The gypsy moths prefer oak and aspen. A healthy tree can take several successive years of defoliation before being killed.

    This is a good time of year for a hat.
    -David

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  13. #13
    Senior Member grouseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whitelief
    The tent in your picture is just so distinctive, in shape, size, and timing. Now all they need is a few leaves. Check out more details on the Eastern Tent Caterpillar.

    The gypsy moths don't make those little tents. Here's a great site on those miserable critters: Gypsy Moths . Not only are they ugly and bad to trees, but their adults (the moths) aren't much to look at either. Look at this ugly mom laying her eggs:



    The gypsy moths prefer oak and aspen. A healthy tree can take several successive years of defoliation before being killed.

    This is a good time of year for a hat.

    Talk about misinformation for years. I always used to think the webs that were made were gypsy moths. Ok, so if normally these Eastern Tent Caterpillers don't hit the Catskills till mid June, what are they doing up in central new england in early May? I know its been warm, but man....

    grouseking

  14. #14
    Senior Member arghman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouseking
    Ok, so if normally these Eastern Tent Caterpillers don't hit the Catskills till mid June, what are they doing up in central new england in early May? I know its been warm, but man....
    I seem to remember tent caterpillars coming out about now in prior years; from an evolutionary standpoint they have the most success if they start eating right about when the leaves get going. They *really* love cherry trees & tend to leave the red oak trees alone in my yard.
    --Jason
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  15. #15
    Senior Member jrichard's Avatar
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    yup, spring tent caterpillars

    Those things actually defoliated a small cherry in front of my house a few years ago. Now for the smaller trees, I manually take them down.

    They, of course, aren't to be confused with the fall webworms, which make similar looking tents, but aren't nearly as bad for the trees.

    If you're interested in bugs, I'd suggest Observing Insect Lives - Donald and Lillian Stokes. It's quite readable, just like the rest of their guides.

    Edit: duplication information, but the book is still recommended!

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