Gypsy moth caterpillars starting to die-out or mature

Spreading of caterpillar-killing fungus, advancing of lifecycle means pests will soon be gone

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There is finally some good news for people in eastern Hampden and Hampshire County, who have been suffering from a gypsy moth caterpillar infestation: the leaf-eating pests could soon be on their way out.

Danny Briggs, an arborist with the company ArborTech, told 22News that many caterpillars are dying right now. They are being killed-off by a fungus that has been accelerated by all the rain we have been having lately. This fungus is typically responsible for keeping the gypsy moth population in check, but last year’s drought prevented the fungus from spreading well until recently; giving us two consecutive bad seasons.

Additionally, the caterpillars that survive are reaching a point in their life cycle where they begin the transformation into adult moths. The adult moths do not do the kind of damage to trees that the caterpillars are responsible for, but they do lay eggs that will turn into next season’s pests.

Continuing Coverage: Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Infestation

Briggs said that the recent die-off means that there is a good chance that next year will not be as severe as this year has been. However, until egg masses begin to show up, we will not have too good of an idea.

He recommends that homeowners fertilize their trees if they have been defoliated by caterpillars, in an effort to keep them healthy.