UMass Extension Landscape Message April 6, 2012

claireplymouth z6b coastal MAApril 6, 2012

UMass Extension Landscape Message April 6, 2012

"Winter Moth remains the top insect of interest at this time in MA for the landscape, nursery, and forest, as well as for blueberry and apple growers. The caterpillars have now virtually all hatched on the North Shore, greater Boston area, South Shore and Rhode Island. They still lag behind on Cape Cod due to cooler climate at this time of year but will be very active within a couple of days. Initial observations from the Elkinton lab at UMass Amherst suggests that approximately 20% of winter moth eggs (not on Cape Cod or in RI) were killed by the excessive temperatures during the third week in March and that as many as another 20% were killed by cold temperatures after hatch on the night of March 26. However, there were millions of eggs over-wintering on host trees in MA this past winter and now the many remaining yet tiny caterpillars are actively finding and feeding on the foliage and flower buds of those plants experiencing early bud opening. Some tiny caterpillars are still seen sitting on the trunks of trees waiting for warmer weather to venture up to the canopy. The warmer temperatures predicted for this week should drive this process quickly. Oak buds are still rather tight and therefore not available to the caterpillars but apple, blueberry, lilac, birches, and all maples are well-enough along to provide food for these caterpillars. For infested plants with opened or opening buds, a spray of Bacillus thuringiensis Kurstaki (B.t.K.) can be quite effective. However, B.t. needs to be ingested by the caterpillars to be effective and if the foliage is not yet near to being fully expanded, then wait for that to happen. Otherwise, the new foliage material that appears over the next several days, after spraying B.t., will not be covered with B.t. thus allowing the caterpillars more leaf surface to damage before ingesting the pesticide. An application of a product that contains Spinosad as the active ingredient should provide excellent results at this time or in the coming weeks during the caterpillar feeding stage. Many pyrethroid insecticides are labeled for caterpillars as well. Avoid spraying apples and crabapples with Spinosad or pyrethroid products if they are in bloom. Pyrethroids can be very harsh on pollinators, such as bees. Spinosad products are toxic to bees at the time of application but this threat diminishes significantly 24 hours after application."

Claire

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pixie_lou

I experienced severe winter moth damage over the past 2 years. Last fall I only saw a handful of winter moths, and so far this spring I have not seen a caterpillar at all. I'm hoping that this will be the year that my trees will be spared the devastating damage.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 8:12AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Sounds hopeful, pixie_lou! I hope the worst is over.

The new Landscape Message is now posted.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 11:48AM
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dekprizm(6MA)

I found yesterday that my roses which are very leafed out are already getting decimated by these tiny (and some are not so tiny) caterpillars. I have been hand picking them and squashing them as I do with beetles (hand picking - not squashing). Does anyone know of a product that is effective but not harmful at all to the bees,birds and beneficial insects? Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 3:19PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

dekprizm: You may be seeing winter moth caterpillars.

The UMass Extension Landscape Message April 20, 2012 is just out and has these recommendations:

"For infested plants with opened or opening buds, a spray of Bacillus thuringiensis Kurstaki (B.t.K.) can be quite effective. However, B.t. needs to be ingested by the caterpillars to be effective and if the foliage is not yet near to being fully expanded, then wait for that to happen. Otherwise, the new foliage material that appears over the next several days, after spraying B.t., will not be covered with B.t. thus allowing the caterpillars more leaf surface to damage before ingesting the pesticide. An application of a product that contains Spinosad as the active ingredient should provide excellent results at this time or in the coming weeks during the caterpillar feeding stage. Many pyrethroid insecticides are labeled for caterpillars as well. Avoid spraying apples and crabapples with Spinosad or pyrethroid products if they are in bloom. Pyrethroids can be very harsh on pollinators, such as bees. Spinosad products are toxic to bees at the time of application but this threat diminishes significantly 24 hours after application."

It sounds like B.t. is the safest, if your conditions are right. If you have to use Spinosad or pyrethroids, then it's important to apply the product very early or very late in the day when bees, etc. are not active.

I'm just repeating what I'm reading here - I haven't used any of these products (I haven't had serious infestations here). I'm sure others here with more experience will respond.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 4:24PM
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