Bland County from Virginia had a hard time this month with gypsy moths invading their community and leaving trees bare.
Locals say the devastation is the worst they experienced in over 44 years. The moths also appeared in Wythe County, but the most destruction took place in Bland County.
Following this year’s invasion, the authorities will draft a plan in order to be more prepared next year.
The biggest problem with the gypsy moths is that they are hard to detect in time. The caterpillars feed on tree leaves and grow into adults very fast.
The gypsy moths are a devastating pest of hardwood forests. In the US, the caterpillars eat leaves from millions of acres of forests. The trees with no leaves are stressed in their development and remain vulnerable to disease.
Since the 1970s, the authorities report almost 75 million acres of land had been destroyed by gypsy moths.
Forest Administration organized aerial treatments using a substance that confuses the insects and stops them from reproducing. The pheromone shows low risks to humans and other creatures in the forest.
However, the treatment will have effects only for the next year’s population.
“So many areas of the county have been affected; we are trying to garner all of the information we can get. If you drive through the county, you can tell. All of the brown and blight on the mountain tops is evidence of it,” said the Bland County Administrator.
Gypsy moths entered the United States in the late 1980s, during a failed silk experiment in Massachusetts. As the insects escaped into the wild, the northeastern part of the US is infested, and the moths tend to move towards south and west.
The insects are native to Europe and Asia. Thus, they lack predators in the United States. Almost 19 states are in quarantine against gypsy moths.
The adult moths will be flying all through July. The eggs will be laid starting with the month of Augusts and just until March when the caterpillars will emerge and feed on tree leaves.
The homeowners can also help to reduce the impact of gypsy moths. The residents could look for egg masses in trees, plants, cars, firewood, garbage cans, or picnic tables. After finding them, soapy water or biodegradable oil can be used to remove them and throw them into a disposable container.
The residents could also call the Virginia Department of Agriculture or the Department of Forestry for assistance with the moth invasion and help to remove the eggs.
Image Source: Wikipedia