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17 Jun 2016

Wintermoth caterpillar and other insect pests

So spring is here. Really?

We have had a very cool spring this year, unlike last year where at this time nearly all trees had leafed out. This has caused many of our typical insect pests, especially wintermoth, to be slow in emerging this spring.

Wintermoth has hatched in many areas, but has not been very noticeable to this point, but I have seen the fine webs around twigs and buds of cherry and blueberry in the past week. Once we get a few warm days, we can expect to see more trees break bud, and begin to see more insect activity.

Deer ticks and dog ticks are now active, so be sure to check yourself, your kids, and your pets if you are outside this weekend. I had to pull a tick off my son last weekend after doing our spring cleanup on Saturday. Some areas have reported mosquito activity already also.

Did you know that we can manage ticks and mosquitos at your property? If you live in an area prone to ticks or mosquitos, or if you are planning a big outdoor event like a party or a wedding, we can come to your property and treat for these pests. This will reduce your chances of coming into contact with these insects that carry Lyme disease or EEE or West Nile Virus. Call Mayer Tree if you would like to learn more.

Hopefully by my next blog post, I can talk about all the wonderful flowering trees. Happy Spring!

17 Jun 2016

Wintermoth on the move

If your house is covered with small pale moths near your porchlights at this time of year, then you have a wintermoth population.

The wintermoth, which so many of you know by the little green inchworm caterpillars that eat your trees in the springtime, is now in its “adult form”. They ended their pupation about 2 weeks ago, and are now mating. Pupation occurs from early June, when the larval caterpillars drop from the trees and bury themselves in the soil, until this time of year. The moth itself is not harmful to your landscape, but their conspicuous presence at night is unmistakable.

This is a time of year where a “”do-it-yourself”” control can have some impact; the female moth is flightless, and must walk up the tree trunk to lay her eggs. You can trap her and prevent her brood from becoming the springtime nuisance by applying an effective bug barrier on your susceptible trees. This is accomplished by creating a solid, impenetrable barrier encircling the tree trunk- there are a few commercially available products at your local garden center or hardware store. To make the barrier most effective, apply a sticky substance to the barrier so the moth cannot move. One commonly available product is called tanglefoot. I have also seen some people use duct tape effectively as well. You will need to check your sticky barrier regularly too- if populations are high enough, you may need to reapply your sticker as the moths accumulate.

This will not be the answer to all your problems if you have had a significant wintermoth population in the past, but may be able to reduce populations a little bit. Foliar sprays still offer the best value and control for most landscape situations, but also emerging are microinjections. While this type of treatment may cost a bit more, it offers you the opportunity to address the problem in the fall, providing a better level of control in the spring. This is a great option for clients that are sensitive to chemicals, or have sensitive landscape areas such as vegetable gardens or koi ponds.

One last thing to remember, if you are looking for do-it-yourself options, be sure to select a product labelled for control of caterpillars, or lepidoptera. I have seen many people buy the wrong products at a garden center- always read the label! Products like horticultural oil will not control caterpillars once they have hatched. If you need to consult an arborist, we at Mayer Tree are always available to assist you.