In this article, I’ll be giving you tips on how to get rid of gypsy moths.
If you’ve never experienced a gypsy moth outbreak before, then count yourself lucky. If you have, then you already know how disgusting it can be.
If you own an oak tree or any other hardwood tree and you’re having a gypsy moth problem, then keep reading.
About Gypsy Moths
The very first gypsy moth outbreak was in Michigan around the mid-1980s. These outbreaks took place in Midland and Clare counties in the lower Michigan area.
From then on, gypsy moths have become a mainstay in every Michigan county.
Gypsy moths are among the most inconveniencing pests in both urban and rural areas. Worse still, they can creep into your home and cause damage to wooden structures too.
Incidentally, it’s the gypsy moth larvae that do all the damage. They are so hungry, that they eat more than 300 species of tree leaves. Oaks are their favorites, but they will munch on just about any leaf.
In the event of an outbreak, the gypsy moth population can be so high, that you will find full-grown trees completely defoliated.
It gets worse, from the branches of the infested trees, these large, hairy larvae can drop frass (fecal pellets) in large amounts, in a rain-like manner. This is far from a pleasant experience, one you would rather not witness.
How To Get Rid Of Gypsy Moths
There are different steps you can take to get rid of gypsy moths. Follow these tips below.
First Find Them
Gypsy moth larvae are aggressive tree eaters. They also lay their eggs on heaps of wood and outdoor furniture.
These are the areas where you should concentrate your energy when in search of gypsy moths.
Scrape The Egg Masses
If you find masses of gypsy moth eggs on your trees or any other form of outdoor wood, you should scrape them off immediately.
You can get a bucket or a container that’s big enough to contain the egg masses and dump them in. You can fill the bucket with soapy water to kill the eggs. You can also burn them of your wish.
Do not make the mistake of leaving bits of the egg masses on the floor or the tree, as those will eventually hatch in the coming spring season.
Introduce Natural Predators
Gypsy moths have “enemies” who would love to munch on them. These natural predators can help you control the gypsy moth population. All you have to do is introduce them onto your yard.
These gypsy moth-eating creatures include a few species of birds, mice, and other predatory insects. They eat both the larvae and adult gypsy moths so they are an ideal solution.
There are wasp and fly species that eat the eggs too. These parasitoids also the caterpillars and pupae.
If you were to introduce natural predators, then you must avoid the use of broad-spectrum insecticides. This is because broad-spectrum Insecticides will also kill the natural predators and introducing them to your yard would be a total waste.
You can buy some of these natural predators at a store or attract them to your yard. For instance, you can attract gypsy moth-eating bird species by dropping bird seeds all over your yard.
As they fly down to eat the seeds, they will come in contact with the moths and eat them too.
Use BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis var. Kurstaki)
BT is useful in protecting landscape trees from heavy defoliation.
Wait for about two weeks after the moth eggs have hatched, then spray BT on the leaves of the infested trees.
BT works well against young caterpillars, especially in their early stages. This will kill them and spare the trees from massive defoliation in the future.
I have to mention that spraying BT on the leaves alone will not solve the problem. The young ones will not die simply by coming in contact with the BT-sprayed leaves. They have to eat the leaves to be affected by it.
The good news is, BT has no harmful effects on humans, mammals, birds, and fish so it is safe to use against gypsy moths. They also do not harm beneficial insects such as pollinators, predators, and parasitoids.
You can use BT yourself if you are disinfesting smaller trees. For larger trees, it would be a good idea to hire a professional, since climbing to reach high canopies isn’t something an inexperienced person should be doing.
Many types of insecticides can be used in the fight against gypsy moths. To prevent massive defoliation, it best to use insecticides when the moths are still very young, as this is when they eat the most.
To use a traditional insecticide, you only need to spray across the leaves of the trees where the moths feed on. There is one danger associated with this though, the insecticide can also affect the beneficial insects on the trees.
Other forms of insecticides do not require spraying. These can be applied by injecting it into the base of the tree. The tree will naturally move the insecticide up the trunk and into the leaves.
When the moths consume the leaves, they will be poisoned and they will die.
Buy an insecticide with Emamectin benzoate ingredient, as this is very effective against gypsy moths.
An extra tip here is to consult with the MSU Plant & Pest Diagnostics to be sure that the insecticide you are buying is effective against gypsy moths.
Call A Professional Pest Extermination Service
You may find it hard or irritating to deal with gypsy moth eggs masses or the adult moths yourself. If you do, then you should call on a professional pest extermination service to help you tackle the problem.
Have them inspect your tree branches to see if egg masses have been laid. Also, have them take a good look around other woodpiles around your yard if you have any.
After a proper inspection, they will decide on how best to remove them from your yard.
This will cost you a decent amount of money, as pest extermination services do not come cheap, especially if they are going to be fighting a full-blown infestation.
Is It Possible To Get Rid Of Gypsy Moths For Good?
As much as you would like to eradicate gypsy moths once and for all, it is quite impossible. They are already a big part of the Michigan forest ecosystem.
Nonetheless, the tips provided in this article will keep the gypsy moth population from spreading into other states.
Where Are Gypsy Moth Eggs Found?
The female moths lay their egg masses in areas that are dark and secure. These include under your lawn chairs or other wooden furniture. They can also lay eggs masses in-between logs of firewood or heaps of decaying tree stumps.
If you have an RV (Recreational Vehicle), then you can also find gypsy moth egg masses there. The wheel well of parked cars is another ideal location for gypsy moth females to lay their eggs.
How Do Gypsy Moths Spread?
Gypsy moth eggs can spread when people unknowingly move them from one location to the other.
Naturally, gypsy moths are not great travelers. If they are an area with lots of trees and good foliage, they will make such a place their permanent home.
To be sure you’re not transporting the egg masses to other locations, you need to be sure what they look like.
If you’re moving firewood or wooden furniture, be advised to properly inspect them to be sure there are no egg masses attached to them. You should also inspect your vehicles before you drive them to another state.
If you find any gypsy moth eggs masses on vehicles or wooden items, be sure to get rid of them before you transport them out of town.
What Can I Do To Limit The Amount Of Gypsy Moths In My Yard?
Gypsy moths do not like to be out in then open, which is why they hide behind, or under piles of dead or rotting wood. To reduce their population in your yard, you should clear out all the woodpiles, especially if they are already rotting.
Proper tree maintenance can also help reduce the gypsy moth population. If your tree branches are overgrown, then there will be more shaded areas in the tree canopy for them to hide and lay their eggs.
Prune properly to remove all dead and decaying branches from your trees. If there are egg masses on the branches, then you’ll be getting rid of them as you prune.
Introducing natural predators is another way to reduce the gypsy moth population. Birds are very effective since they also love being on trees.
Gypsy moth infestations are far from being pleasant. Follow the tips in this article to get rid of them and control their spread.
I trust the tips provided here on how to get rid of gypsy moths have been helpful.