Rain could prevent residents from seeing more caterpillars

Rain this spring has been extremely beneficial here in western Massachusetts

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – There is a possibility some towns here in western Massachusetts could see fewer Gyspy Moth Caterpillars. 22News is working for you with the main reason why.

Its what western Massachusetts has been needing and finally getting this spring and that’s rain.

Gypsy Moth Caterpillars were a major issue in many western Massachusetts towns in 2015 and last year. Going after oak, maple, birch, and poplar trees and eating their leaves.

2015 and 2016 were the same years western Massachusetts was in a long, ongoing drought. But thanks to all the rain so far this spring western Massachusetts could possibly be seeing fewer of these caterpillars. Damper conditions bring out an insect killing fungus.

Tawny Simisky, Extension Entomologist at UMass, told 22News, “This fungus roughly 1989 or so has been largely responsible for keeping gypsy moth population reduced and its thought that the drought conditions in 2015 and 2016 are responsible for the increase population we’ve been seeing.”

The caterpillar eggs have hatched and will be soon looking for leaves to eat.

If you see them on your property they are not harmful to humans. Gypsy Moth Caterpillars are more of a problem for trees not people, so if you see them in your yard know that they are not a major health risk for people.

Depending on how much rain we get this spring we could see fewer caterpillars come late summer. Right now it is too soon to tell. This type of insect killing fungus will not grow in dry conditions.

For more information on Gypsy Moth Caterpillars you can click here.