Return to the Northeast Coastal Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

canker moth infestation

Posted by beachcomber108 eastern suffolk (My Page) on
Sat, May 20, 06 at 12:58

Hi I've just noticed the inchworms dangling from the trees. Last year I could barely go out the door for more than a month. They are so hard on the oak trees. Does anyone know anything about this year's infestation? What it's time cycle looks like? Any cures? Apparently there is an even more invasive species devastating eastern Ma; could they have spread here already, or are we still dealing with the simple (simply awful)canker worms? I am in Hampton Bays.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: canker moth infestation

Yes. The scourge of the catepillar has rained down upon us in recent years. The non-native invasive species you spoke of is the "Asian Winter Moth". It looks very similar to the "Fall Cankerworn" and has a similar life cycle. They should be done eating in the next 2 weeks. Last week I read that DNA analysis of Long Island inchworm populations indicate that they are a cross-breed between the two types. So, you have both and they are mixing--I'm not sure if that is good or bad. In addition, we have gypsy moth and tent catepillars eating the forest trees. I have NEVER seen it this bad, ever. You can try spraying BT on your trees next spring-it is too late now for this treatment. This only works when the inchworms are small--probably mid-late April. If you have large trees you want to protect, you will need to hire a professional. My mom has a large yard and she has paid around $500 each spring for the last 3 years to have her entire yard sprayed with BT. It has been hugely successful. Her yard is largely catepillar free now whereas defiolation abounds all around her. One hopeful bit of news: Massachusetts has been aggressively breeding and releasing a parasitic fly which is the only known predator of the winter moth catepillar. This same treatment has been used with moderate success in Washington/Oregon and up in Nova Scotia--other areas that have been overwhelmed by this invasive pest. Many oaks in our area are dying because of repeated defiolation over the last 4-5 years. Red Oak mortality due to winter moth defiolation in Nova Scotia was 40%!! So, good luck and pray for a catepillar population crash soon!!

RE: canker moth infestation

Last year and this year its terrible. You can actually hear the "poop" hitting the foliage of plants too. That is what all that black stuff on the ground, decks, patio's and on plant foliage is. I'm not even uncovering my pool for a few more weeks because of this stuff, and the inchworms are all over the damn place. YUK!!!!

RE: canker moth infestation

Thanks for responses. rockman50, that's good news. I fear it's a sign of the environmental stress on these trees in general that suddenly pests are overwhelming them. Does that make sense? When is the gypsy moth time? Would it be happening already? I'm hoping we've escaped them for this year. Do you know anything about tricogramma wasps (sp?). I've heard they are a beneficial insect that can be released in the garden and will parasitize and kill caterpillars. But you seem to be saying known predators aren't doing the job with these guys. Anyway, again my question. HOW MUCH LONGER?

RE: canker moth infestation

The gypsy moth caterpillars are also in an active feeding time now. If you have a lot of them, you will know because they will be crawling around everywhere--driveways, sidewalks, any and all structures, including trees. In an infested area, huge numbers can be seen dangling from threads. They are much larger than the inch worms, dark in color, and more fury. They are digusting and birds will not eat them. They will also be done feeding in the next two weeks. Basically early May to mid June is the feeding time for all of the caterpillars in the coastal NE. The gypsy moth problem is nothing new. Different areas in the NE generally experience severe infestations once every 10 years or so. Then a naturally occurring fungus usually kills them off and it takes another 10 years for their populations to rebound to infestation levels. Rainy coolish weather this time of year promotes the fungal growth. I have read that there are a few insects (wasps and beetles) that will kill these and other caterpillars but the population of those insects is simply not sufficient at this time to do the job--hence the parasitic fly program I mentioned here in Mass. How long?? I wish I new. The "end" is partly weather dependent--particularly for gypsy moths. And the problem with the inchworms is that it depends on which one you have (the native fall cankerworm or the non-native Asian winter moth). The cankerworm apparently does go through natural boom and bust cycles-and we are booming now. But the Asian winter moth might not repsond in the same way to our local environment. And that is why interbreeding between the two types is a potential problem.

RE: canker moth infestation

Obviously the worms are gone now. Bliss. I know one way to prevent gypsy moth infestations for next year: look for their egg sacs; they are rust-colored patches, usually from ground to eye level on sheltered wood places (fence corners, tree trunks, under the eaves of sheds, in piles of wood, etc). Sometimes the expired moth (one to two inches, white or grey) is with them. I just scrape them off into a plastic container and throw them away.

Here's my question: is there any way to do this with the inchworms? Another good option would be some attractor to capture the moths, at their specific times. Any info on this?

I'm trying to think ahead, do some prevention!

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Northeast Coastal Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here