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UMass Extension Landscape Message December 7, 2012

Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
Fri, Dec 7, 12 at 18:21

UMass Extension Landscape Message December 7, 2012

"This will be the final Landscape Message for 2012, thanks for a great season! The message will be on winter hiatus in January and February. New messages for the 2013 growing season will begin in March. To receive immediate notification when the next update is posted, be sure to join our e-mail list."

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"Winter Moth: The appearance of the adult moths historically has begun in MA starting around the second or third week in November and peaking by late-November or early December. This year, emergence of the adult moths began just before Thanksgiving but was geographically spotty and slow. This was an unexpected event given the very warm spring and greatly accelerated activity of egg hatch this last March, which was about 3 weeks ahead of the norm for MA. Precipitation from the weekend of December 1st followed by atypically warm temperatures (mid 40s to low 50s Fahrenheit) has resulted in a renewed flush of winter moth adults for this week. Given that the ground is not yet frozen and that above-average temperatures are still predicted, we may continue to see moth activity through the next week or more. Mated female winter moths are producing eggs, mostly on the trunks of trees. Males, which have a full set of wings and can fly, are attracted to porch lights, outdoor holiday lighting, and automobile lights, sometimes resulting in reports of people witnessing 'a blizzard of moths'. The adult moths do not feed; mating and producing eggs are their only focus. There are no control measures warranted for the adult moths.

The research lab of Dr. Joseph Elkinton (UMass Amherst) reported earlier this year that the lab's project for the release of the parasitoid fly Cyzenis albicans is starting to show merit by becoming apparently well-established within the winter moth populations where this fly has been previously released. Such work performed in Nova Scotia during the 1950s for winter moth took 10 years before the fly became the controlling factor for reducing winter moth to manageable numbers there. This parasitoid fly-release program in MA will be in its 8th year next spring when the Elkinton lab releases tens of thousands of more flies, which will hopefully one day soon be the controlling factor for this very serious defoliator in MA and Rhode Island.

Reported by Robert Childs, Extension Entomologist, Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences Department, UMass, Amherst"

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Follow-Up Postings:

RE: UMass Extension Landscape Message December 7, 2012

That is consistent with my observations down here in SE Mass. I saw my first moths after Thanksgiving but the numbers so far appear to be very low. Normally when driving on mild evenings I see large numbers of moths in my headlights, similar to the look of lots of snowflakes. But not this year...very sparse. I hope that holds true. I often think that what we need is a wicked cold December with deep snow...maybe after a Thanksgiving blizzard. Remember the cold December of 1989? That was one of the coldest months in the 20th century in New England! Just kill them all with anomalous early cold. But it just seems like we are always super mild until Jan 1. And instead mother nature is trying to kill them with anomalous heat (last March).

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