Michigan’s Gypsy Moths: How To Rid The Pesky Pest From Your Trees
Most of us have probably heard about the dreaded cicada brood that was set to be the biggest "emergence" in a long time. In case you missed it you can read more below:
However, maybe this is local to Kalamazoo, I've yet to see any. Instead, I'm hearing reports of a different kind of bug previously unknown to me: The Gypsy Moth.
On a recent Reddit post, a Michigander shared that the Oak Trees in their area of Tawas/Oscoda were absolutely destroyed due to these moths. They went on to say,
I have thousands of them on my house, the ground looks like it is moving.
That sounds like it's directly out of one of my nightmares.
For Those Who Don't Know, What Are Gypsy Moths?
Gypsy Moths, as I'm learning from Michigan State University, are an invasive species that were first seen in Michigan in the mid 1980's. Since then, like most invasive species, they've become quite a pest. No pun intended.
Gypsy Moths like to feed on trees, over 300 types, but seem to have a preference for Oak. The article from MSU goes on to say that,
During an outbreak, the density of gypsy moth caterpillars can be so high that many host trees are heavily or even completely defoliated. The abundance of large, hairy caterpillars and the resulting rain of frass (fecal pellets) from infested trees is unpleasant and can be distressing, especially for people who have not experienced a gypsy moth outbreak before.
Rain. Of. Fecal. Pellets. Yeah...I'm going to take a pass on dealing with these critters.
How Do I Know if I'm dealing with Gypsy Moths?
From the little I've read, I doubt they'll be hard to miss or confuse with any other type of caterpillar. One description in the comment section of the above mentioned Reddit thread said,
We were up north they were dropping from the trees it sounded like rain. Also their poop was dropping too - our walk couldn’t end fast enough.
That's a LOT of caterpillars. If you need a visual...this is a close up of a tree trunk. Look how many are in just this one space. Calculate that to include the entire surface of the tree and...I'm sure it equals a lot. I'm not great at math.
They feed on trees, are a considerable eye sore, create a rain of fecal pellets and their population keeps growing. So...
What Can I Do to Rid My Home of Gypsy Moths?
Great question. In that same article from Michigan State University they recommend:
- Locating the egg masses on your trees
- Scraping them into a bucket full of soapy water
- OR burn/bury the egg masses
They say you should NOT leave them on top of the ground because those egg masses could still hatch next year. By the way, they provide pictures of the Gypsy Moth in every stage of life. If you'd like to become more familiar so you can easily identify them you can find those pictures here.
Apparently, there's a fungus that directly attacks the caterpillars but, if you're someone who is looking for a simpler solution with things you have in your own home this video from the Youtube account, Homes for Beginners, has a great trick with duct tape:
Personally, I haven't encountered these yet. And, from my reading and from comments online it seems that these are mostly in northern Michigan. However, will I still do an interpretive dance every time I feel a rouge hair go tumbling down my arm because I've mistaken it for one of these creepy caterpillars? That's uh...that's probably a safe bet.
While the Gypsy Moth is a threat to trees more so than people, there are some animals you should be on the lookout for. Check out 15 of the world's deadliest animals: