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DEC surveying spongy moth damage from above

Jul 18, 2023 12:32 pm

Andrea Macko reports for Porcupine Soup that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is now doing aerial surveys of the Hudson Valley to find out how bad the damage to local forests is from spongy moth caterpillars. The winged nuisances, formerly called Gypsy Moths, have been seen locally in large numbers this summer. In Round Top, Cairo, and Coxsackie, specifically, swarms have been reported. According to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, “The caterpillars feed on leaves of the forest, shade, ornamental and fruit trees, and shrubs. A single defoliation can kill some evergreens, but usually, two or more defoliations are needed to kill hardwoods." Rachael Ashley, manager at Story’s Nursery in Freehold, has not noticed too many moths there but says, “I have had lots of calls from Round Top and the mountain areas.” They recommend two chemical sprays, Bacillus Thuringiensis and Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew to combat the moths. The Cornell Cooperative Extension recommends the “crush and brush” approach, saying, “During its pupal stage [spongy moth] can be crushed or brushed into a container of soapy water to prevent them from making it to the adult stage.... Adult spongy moths appear within two weeks. Adult females (pale colored) have limited mobility and can also be crushed or brushed into a container in soapy water. Since each female can easily lay upwards of 1,000 eggs, eliminating adult female moths could help prevent future problems." Read the full story in Porcupine Soup.

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