The Gypsy Moth Caterpillars began hatching in great numbers around the first of May. As you can see in this photograph they have already riddled the new leaves on the oak trees in the affected areas.
Last year we experienced total defoliation of thousands of acres in our area and this year promises to be much worse. State and private spraying programs, although effective can only control the caterpillars on small areas of forest land. The cost to attempt to eradicate this pest would totally overwhelm state and local government if any such attempt were made.
I will once again post photos of the devastation to our forest as the season progresses. The worst will occur in late June just before the caterpillars metamorphous into adult moths. This will be the second year for the outbreak. Oaks can typically stand two to three defoliations before it proves fatal but last year was particularly stressful as we were in the midst of a prolonged drought. This spring has been exceptionally wet so for the tree’s sake I am hoping for the rains to continue.
If you are not familiar with the Gypsy Moth and their devastation, click the label “Gypsy Moth” at the bottom of this post to view my photos from last year’s outbreak.