SOUTHBORO (CBS) – This week’s Gardening With Gardner takes us to Southboro where the elusive gypsy moth caterpillar has returned.
“With the temperatures increasing, they’ve made their way out of the egg sacks in the barks of trees, and some of them on some of their favorites like oak trees or hickory trees. They’re all over the place on the underside of the leaves,” said arborist Eric Taylor, a manager at Lynch Plant Healthcare in Sudbury.
Some homeowners have already noticed the webs spun on their patio furniture, and the tiny creatures crawling on anything outside. If you look closer, you’d probably see them all over the leaves of trees already.
“Thankfully they’re in such a small phase that they haven’t done a lot of damage yet. If you look on the underside of a leaf, like right here for instance, you can see them,” Taylor said.
As they grow bigger, they become more of a nuisance.
“The bigger they grow, they can eat a lot more. Once they’re at the adult phase of their life, (they can) decimate the trees canopy in a couple of days,” Taylor said.
There are certain sprays on the market that you can buy to treat on smaller trees, but a professional is needed to reach the really tall oaks and maples.
“We do two applications between now and mid-June, both phases of their life,” said Taylor.
Before last year, the gypsy moth caterpillars hadn’t really been a nuisance since 1989.
“The fungus called entomophaga kept them in check for about 25 plus years. We were very hopeful that the reemergence of that fungus last June was going to present it so that there was no gypsy moth caterpillar problem this year,” Taylor said. “Unfortunately, over the past week or so, with the temperatures increasing, we’ve gotten so many calls from towns such as Southboro, Hudson, Dover, Sherborn, Millis, Walpole, and they’re definitely back in large numbers.”
Now there are environmentally friendly sprays that don’t irritate your lungs, and are safe for kids and pets.
“I think years and years ago, people were adverse to spraying because they were harsh insecticides available to treat for them. Now, we’re fortunate enough to have materials that are non-toxic to bees and other pollinators,” said Taylor.