After devastating our trees and pooping all over the place, those gypsy moths are about to meet their maker. Literally. Because they’re about to tangle with a deadly fungus. So, let the great gypsy moth die-off commence!
NBC Connecticut reports that the fungus, called maimaiga, is lethal to gypsy moth caterpillars. Which is why so many residents are now seeing shriveled up corpses clinging to trees.
I know, it’s a lovely image, isn’t it?
Actually, it’s probably for the best considering the damage these pests left in their wake last year. Those poor oak trees are still trying to recover from last year’s swarm.
But, now it’s time to lower the pesticide and breathe a sigh of relief. Although we hated dealing with all that rain earlier in the season, it turns out it was exactly what the maimaiga fungus needed to bloom.
Due to last year’s drought, it wasn’t that effective in curbing gypsy moth numbers. But now, it’s a totally different story. Mother Nature restored her system of checks and balances so her wonderful trees can last another year.
Because these bugs didn’t target just oak trees this time around, they also chowed down on witch hazel and maple trees.
Not only that, they created a rather interesting problem this year. Everyone complained about the caterpillars’ poop!
Not only did some residents see their backyards slowly defoliate, a ton of brown slimy stuff covered their decks and driveways. Gross.
The poop, called “frass,” actually posed a threat to the public. If enough frass builds up, it congeals into a slimy slippery substance that could cause people to lose their balance and fall. Not to mention how the high humidity sped along the process of turning caterpillar waste into disgusting gooey slime.
So, be mindful of making sure the elderly and disabled have a clear path to walk on outdoors. Like, pretend it’s icy outside. That’s the same level of slippery as frass.
If you want to clean it off, power washing seems to be the way to go. If it won’t budge, you may have to use dish soap and a scrub brush to clear it out of the way. But, make sure you wear gloves for that. You are dealing with poop after all.
If the frass is dry, you can simply sweep it off before it becomes a bigger problem.
On the plus side, the poop will eventually become fertilizer when it decomposes. So, there’s that silver lining. But, we’re dealing with a large silver lining at the present.
All in all, it’s about time that fungus reared its beautiful head. But, there’s more you can do to prevent another gypsy moth breakout next year.
If you come across a bunch of dying caterpillars, let the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection know. That way, it allows officials to determine which areas will struggle with the bugs next year.
Basically, DEEP will have a clearer picture of what the 2018 season will look like if a lot of residents provide feedback. Those areas that keep seeing dead caterpillars will be of least concern. So, they’ll know which areas to watch out for next spring/summer.
In order to help out, you can email DEEP with your location and gypsy moth status to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out their Facebook page and leave a comment, too.
One more thing, for the caterpillars that do survive the fungus and pupate into gypsy moths, you can also scale back next year’s numbers by scraping off their egg masses. But, in order to destroy the egg mass, you have to submerge it in soapy water. No lighting them on fire. No one needs to reenact Arachnophobia.
These egg masses can be laid pretty much everywhere. On cars, fences, trees, outdoor furniture, fire wood… so you will have to keep your eyes out for them. But, if it’ll cull next year’s numbers, it’ll be worth the effort. Less poop and dead trees for you!