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Gypsy moth outbreak attacking WNY, first ‘severe’ outbreak in 15 years

Posted at 10:49 AM, Jun 11, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — You may have noticed your trees and gardens getting attacked by gypsy moths more than normal this year. New York DEC Research Scientist, Jerry Calson, said this year’s outbreak is considered “severe,” and New York has not seen this many gypsy month in about 15 years.

“Every gypsy moth mama has about 300 kids,” Carlson said. “The reason we are not ankle deep in gypsy moths all the time is that most of those 300 die. All of those perfect storm conditions have to align to get that level of caterpillars."

Carlson said the gypsy moths will attack your trees and make them appear to be braving winter conditions with no leaves.

“It’s going to be another two or three weeks and yes, your oak trees will get stripped of their leaves if the population gets big enough, but those oak trees will produce new leaves,” Carlson said.

If you’re someone who started planting during the pandemic, you should not be afraid of gypsy moths attacking your flowers, but you should regularly check your fruit trees.

Grabber and Sons Landscaping and Nursery’s Mary Brown told 7 Eyewitness News that many people that started gardening during the pandemic chose to plant fruit trees, which is a problem because gypsy moths attack apple trees.

Here are some tips Brown suggests to gypsy moth proof your garden:

  • Keep an eye on your plants! Look for signs of bites in the new leaves because the caterpillars eat the softest, tender leaves first. (They feed at night, which does make it more difficult to find the moths.)
  • You should look out for brown clusters on the side of your trees. If you see any, you should scrape the clusters off and put it in a bucket of detergent to make sure it’s all gone.
  • You should clean out any debris from your yard like tree stumps and branches because that’s where the gypsy moths want to lay their eggs.
  • You can buy traps and sticky traps for the adult moths and insecticides if your outbreak is uncontrollable.

Carlson said that Western New York has not seen the worst of gypsy moths yet.

“We are monitoring constantly for those natural enemies,” Carlson said. “We will have a better idea in July and August what kind of year we are going to have in terms of the egg mass.”

Carlson said it’s hard to predict if it will be another 15 years until the next outbreak because of climate change.