Gypsy moth caterpillars can put trees at risk for other problems

Caterpillars numerous in Quabbin Reservoir area

BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WWLP) – 22News recently received an e-mail from a viewer, saying that when they were walking around in the area of the Quabbin Reservoir, it sounded like it was raining- but there was no rain.

The sound was gypsy moth caterpillars eating away at the oak and maple leaves in the tree canopy above.

Gypsy moth eggs were first seen hatching near the Quabbin in late April. They have settled there, because of the abundant oak and maple trees. Entomologist Tawny Simisky explained how defoliation affects our trees.

“That can weaken the trees and make them more susceptible to secondary invaders- so, other organisms that really aren’t a big problem unless the tree is otherwise unhealthy,” Simisky said.

Continuing Coverage: Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Invasion

The non-native insect is typically killed by a fungus that grows in the spring. Because of our state-wide drought last year, that fungus has not been able to grow.

The caterpillars are expected to cocoon within the next few weeks.

As moths, they aren’t bothersome, but they will be laying eggs to hatch next spring.