How to keep the gypsy moth caterpillars away

There are also steps you can take to prevent them from returning next year

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Arborists are trying to save the trees damaged during this year’s infestation of gypsy moth caterpillars.

For weeks, 22News has taken you to eastern Hampden and Hampshire County towns, where gypsy moth caterpillars have been eating the leaves of thousands of trees. Springfield arborist Danny Briggs of ArborTech told 22News that it’s still possible to save trees from being completely foliated, using a “measured” chemical attack.

“We spray the foliage- it’s just a light mist- and it will kill the caterpillars. We suppress the caterpillars. We don’t kill them all, we suppress them,” Briggs said.

“The outbreak is really bad in Brimfield, Ware, Hampden. It’s making its way into Wilbraham and East Longmeadow.”

Continuing Coverage: Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Infestation

Briggs regrets that caterpillar infestation victims don’t call for help earlier, before their trees were left without any leaves.

“I personally believe within two years, a tree is defoliated- it’s very hard to tap into its carbohydrates and come back,” Briggs said.

The Springfield arborist said that tree owners can take steps now against a possible caterpillar infestation next year.

“So that’s a soil drench, and the tree will uptake the insecticides and protect them from the caterpillars in the future,” Briggs said.

A bit of welcome news for affected homeowners: Briggs predicts that the worst will be over in about two weeks, when the caterpillars follow nature’s cycle, going into the cocoon stage before becoming harmless adult moths.