The moths are back

·2 min read

Caterpillars of the spongy moth, commonly known as the gypsy moth, have returned.

Mayor Joanne Vanderheyden asked director of community services Robert Lilbourne at the May 16 council meeting to talk about what the effect and effort is in Strathroy-Caradoc after people started calling and posting on social media about another infestation.

Lilbourne said it is a cyclical system.

“The population will start to die off after five to seven years. That means right now we’re at the peak of the infestation, the infestation will die off in time. And it dies off naturally from a virus that the caterpillar picks up,” said Lilbourne.

He added that the St. Clair Conservation Authority made it clear to him that spraying woodlots does not resolve the issue in backyards.

“In Strathroy-Caradoc ourselves, we have not noticed a lot of defoliation within our woodlots. The conservation authority is feeling the same,” said Lilbourne.

The municipality does not do aerial spraying.

“If we do find a park that does have infestation of spongy moths, we will spray them just with the BTK you can find at Home Hardware,” said Lilbourne.

He added that only one area was sprayed last year with the BTK.

The invasive moth native to Europe and Asia first appeared in Ontario in 1969. The caterpillars love hardwoods in particular, munching on tree species like oak, birch, maple, willow, poplar and aspen until July, when they metamorphose into adult moths.

Egg masses can removed from trunks and branches in late July.

In mid-May to June, the caterpillars are larger and can be stopped with burlap skirts or sticky bands. BTK is a biological insecticide safe to humans that uses a bacteria found in soil to kill caterpillars, though it is more effective when they are smaller.

The Province predicts 2022 to be another bad year of infestation in our area, but the worst of it is forecast to be in southeastern Ontario.

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner

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