GLENVILLE – As trees begin to bud, Glenville town officials are watching for the little leaf munchers Spongy Moths, formerly Gypsy moths, to abate them as much as possible before they wreak havoc on trees in town again.
“So far we have not heard from any residents about the caterpillars,” said town Supervisor Chris Koetzle Monday.
But it’s still early, he said.
The infestation of caterpillars showed up last spring, eating the leaves off oaks, birches, willows and even blueberry and raspberry bushes.
“They typically feed for six to eight weeks starting in the spring and ending sometime between May and June,” said Lori Severino, a spokesperson with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “After that they go into the pupa stage before becoming moths. However, the insect will continue to lay eggs, which can be seen in egg masses that hold around 1,000 eggs.”
Locally, the DEC said it’s expecting significant defoliation in Saratoga County. However, places like Clinton, Essex, Warren and some Mohawk Valley counties will also see heavy defoliation.
“The Finger Lakes region and Allegany State Park also experienced heavy defoliation throughout,” said Severino. She said the moths are not native but have naturalized and are always in the forest.
“They tend to spike in numbers roughly every 10-15 years but outbreaks are usually ended by natural causes such as predators and disease,” she said.
The DEC mapped just under 680,000 acres of defoliation from the moth as part of its annual forest aerial survey, according to the DEC.
In 2021 the moths were seen a lot in both Central and Western New York, Severino said.
While removing the moths egg masses in the winter won’t eradicate them entirely it can help reduce the number of the insects. If people see egg masses they can scrape them off the tree or building into a container of detergent, which will prevent the eggs from hatching, Severino said.
Koetzle said town employees did that throughout the winter whenever they came across a town-owned tree with a mass on it.
Koetzle said the next prevention step, which can take place around now, would be to put a sticky barrier around the tree so the insect sticks to that and cannot make it to the leaves. In mid-June people when the caterpillars are much larger people will want to switch to a burlap sack to catch the insect so it can’t make its way back up the tree.
People can find more information on the insect and ways to control them at https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/83118.html.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.