The Winter Moth Caterpillar May Be Becoming Less Of A Problem
The winter moth caterpillar is an invasive species that has caused problems throughout the Northeastern United States for years. Although the pest has not been that problematic for Marylanders, there were signs that the caterpillar’s population was growing as it expanded the Eastern seaboard, where it would have likely wreaked havoc on maple and white oak trees in Maryland.
Fortunately, however, there appears to be recent good news involving the winter moth caterpillar. A group of scientists from Massachusetts recently “declared victory” over the caterpillar, announcing that they had reversed the caterpillar’s population growth for the first time in years. This indicates that pest-control measures are working.
The Spread Of The Winter Moth Caterpillar
This century, the winter moth caterpillar has caused problems for New Englanders, especially those in Massachusetts. Each year, the caterpillar is responsible for destroying tens of thousands of acres of trees. UMass-Amherst entomologist Joseph Elkinton said that the winter moth caterpillar epidemic was shaping up to be as problematic as the gypsy moth invasion, if not more so. Elkinton said that by finding a solution, researchers prevented a “major invasion calamity.”
Finding A Solution
For nearly 15 years, researchers have been trying to come up with a solution to combat the winter moth caterpillar problem. Scientists have appeared to solve the problem through the use of “biological control,” where they introduced parasitic flies from Europe that are considered predators to the caterpillar. Because this method of population control occurs naturally in the ecosystem, the state of Massachusetts expects to save millions of dollars per year.
Researchers say that the parasitic fly’s only prey is the winter moth. They began to craft a solution through lab testing. After years of testing, they decided to release the fly at 44 sites across the Massachusetts coast. So far, the fly has taken hold in at least 38 of the 44 sites. Researchers have said that if the flies don’t take hold at the other six locations, they will re-release the flies to do so again.
Diligence Prevents An Epidemic
As a Marylander, you may not have experienced problems with the winter moth caterpillar. However, the Massachusetts plan of action demonstrates the need for diligence in preventing the spread of invasive species. If you notice an insect that you have not seen previously, it’s likely in your best interest to contact pest control experts or government officials who can further examine the pest.
Is The Winter Moth Caterpillar A Problem On Your Property?
Have you noticed that you’ve had problems with the winter moth caterpillar, or any other similar species? If so, be sure to contact the Maryland pest experts at BugOut. With more than three decades experience in the area, we are quite knowledgeable with the pests that Marylanders find problematic. Instead of trying at-home pest solutions, we can work with you to come up with a comprehensive plan of action proven to work. Be sure to contact us today to learn more.