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Gypsy Moth Suppression Program

Posted on: August 1, 2012

[ARCHIVED] Gypsy Moth Surveying to Begin Soon

Starting in September and running through November; possibly into December; field staff of the Gypsy Moth Suppression Program will once again be out checking private property in Roscommon County for egg masses laid by the female moth. You can recognize these people by the blue vests that are worn with the words “GYPSY MOTH” printed in white letters on the front and back. In order for us to check the whole county in a timely manner, it is impossible to obtain prior permission to enter each and every landowner’s property. If you object to the idea of allowing the staff on your property please write a letter requesting us to not check. This request should be mailed to the address below and will be kept on file for the current fall survey season.

DO NOT REMOVE THE EGG MASSES - you need to leave them for the field staff to count. If you remove them you could jeopardize your chances in meeting the eligibility requirements of the program which will result in not being aerially sprayed next spring.

The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is one of the most serious insect threats of forest, woodland, shade trees and landscape plants in the United States. It is originally from the temperate regions of Europe, Asia and North Africa. In 1869 the gypsy moth became established in North America after escaping in Medford, Massachusetts during an unsuccessful breeding attempt with native silkworms. Since then it has spread to other parts of the country, including Roscommon County, and is continuing to move south and west. The caterpillars can be annoying. Although they feed on vegetation, large caterpillars will wander onto the house, garage, patio, deck, yard furniture, or any object associated with residential living. When they do this in large numbers, especially after stripping trees of foliage, the experience can be unpleasant and upsetting. Unhealthy trees are weakened when defoliated making them susceptible to other insects and disease problems that can kill them.

The gypsy moths life cycle begins in late summer to early fall when the female moth lays its egg mass. The female is a creamy white, with a wingspan of about 2 inches. The male is smaller and camouflage brown with black mottling. Both have an inverted black “V” on their forewings. Since the female cannot fly, she will lay her egg mass close to where she was in the pupa stage. She emits a chemical odor to attract the nearest male for mating. Males mate several times before dying. The female lives about a week. Feeding on foliage ends once the caterpillar transforms into the pupa and moth stages.

Gypsy moth eggs are intertwined in a matting of hair from the females’ body. This hair is a good insulator and makes the egg very water repellent and non-susceptible to cold weather. The mass may be laid in various sizes, color and usually tear-drop shaped. Depending on the mass size each 1 might containing from 50 to 1500 eggs which will begin hatching the following spring. Egg masses might be found in such places as the undersides of branches, tree trunks, stone walls and fences, rock piles, under eaves, dead tree bark and inside bat and bird houses. They can be brought to your house on automobiles, trailers, campers, mulch and firewood.

The best time to remove an egg mass would be around the first of April 2013 before it hatches. To destroy the mass simply scrape it into a bucket of soapy water, let it soak for a day or 2 and then dispose of it.

For further information (free of charge) about the gypsy moth, including color illustrations of various life stages or what to do in woodlots around a home; stop by the office in the County Building or send a request to this address:
Gypsy Moth Coordinator
500 Lake Street
Roscommon, MI 48653
Phone: 989-275-7135
Fax: 989-275-3170

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