Gypsy moth caterpillars have started hatching in western Mass.

In 2016 gypsy moth caterpillars invaded parts of Holland

HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – The gypsy moth caterpillars have been seen hatching on trees along Route 202 in Belchertown.

If you live in eastern parts of Hampden, Hampshire or Franklin Counties you may have been affected by them last year. In parts of Holland the gypsy moth caterpillars were everywhere. They defoliated the trees and their droppings were left on everything.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, last year the gypsy moth caterpillars defoliated 350,000 acres across Massachusetts.  

“They like oak trees first when they finish those off they’ll go after just about anything like pine trees and even grass on the lawn. They’re a nuisance but they don’t generally kill plants they defoliate them early and most of the plants will refoliate before summer and survive,” said arborist Bob Goss.

Until last year the gypsy moth caterpillars hadn’t really been a problem since the 1980s.

There are some natural insecticides you can use to help control them. Tawny Simisky, an entomologist at UMass says there are natural insecticides made from a soil-dwelling bacteria you can use to get rid of the caterpillars but it is most effective on the very young ones. 

“When we were kids we would hear them at night the droppings and everything it was awful. I remember I hope they don’t come back everything is so beautiful and it’s not a good thing,” said Sharlene Boyce of Northampton.

A fungus that was responsible for killing the caterpillars has not been as effective over the last couple of years due to the drought conditions we’ve been experiencing.