How to exterminate browntail moth caterpillars

mm Paul Verbiton July 30, 2019
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browntail moth caterpillars

The browntail moth was accidentally brought into Somerville, Massachusetts from Europe in 1897. By 1913, the bug had spread to the majority of the New England states and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The population at that point dropped, for no clear reason, until there was only a remaining population limited to Cape Cod and a couple of islands off the Maine coast in Casco Bay. The incidental outbreak happened on the mainland during the 20th century until the 1990s when browntail turned into a lasting issue along the southern Maine coast.

Browntail moth caterpillar damage

The larval stage of these pests feeds from the foliage of numerous hardwood trees and shrubs especially: oak, shadbush, shoreline plum, apple, cherry, and rugosa rose. When the larval feeds, it causes a reduction of growth and occasional mortality of esteemed shrubs and trees.

While feeding harm may cause some concern, the primary human effect from the browntail moth is the result of contact with toxic hairs found on the caterpillars. Any contact of these hairs with human skin causes a rash like poison ivy that can be extreme on certain people. Individuals can likewise experience respiratory distress from breathing in the microscopic hairs that blow around in the air.

Life History

The browntail moth produces a single generation a year. It has four life stages; egg, larval, pupal, and the adult stage. The larval stage goes on for nine months, from August through June. In the fall, the colonies of larvae build winter webs in trees made from a single leaf wrapped tightly with large amounts of white silk. The colonies comprise 25 to at least 400 larvae. The larvae overwinter within two to four-inch-long winter web arranged out on branch tips. These webs are mostly found in red oak or apple trees.

Fall webworm nests, are frequently confused for the browntail moth winter webs, the winter web are loose, further in on the branches and more regularly found in ash trees. Eastern tent caterpillar tents are found in crotch and forks of apple and cherry tree branches throughout the spring.

During the spring, as soon as the earliest leaf bubs are open, the larvae become active and crawl out of the webs to feed on the new leaves. They can destroy the foliage as quick as it develops. For some time the larvae go back into the web at night, they remain outside leaves as they become larger. By June, the larvae are full grown. Large larvae are about 11/2 inches long, dark brown, and have a broken white stripe on each side of their body and conspicuous, they also have two reddish spots on the posterior end of the back.

How To Control

Non-chemical method: Control of the browntail moth population in isolated zones might be acquired by cut-out the overwintering webs and destroying these webs by either putting them into soapy water or burning them. This control should be done in the winter and in early spring from September to mid-April.

Any cocoons or caterpillars you find crawling on buildings can be removed with water from a high-pressure hose.

Get professional help from an arborist or pest control services around Hickory NC, who are highly trained if considering pesticide control.

Chemical method: Webs and larvae are commonly found up in trees and are hard for you to effectively control them. Pesticides should be applied when caterpillars are little and feeding; normally before the end of May. Timing of pesticide treatment is critical, treatment before the end of May will stop the development of the dangerous hairs; treatment after the end of May will result in dead caterpillars and toxic hairs. Take control measures as right on time as possible to lessen the exposure to the caterpillar hairs. Contact an authorized pesticide applicator well before May to plan a control system. However, an authorized pesticide applicator is required for the use of non-natural insecticides to control browntail moth within the 250 of the high tide mark.

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Paul Verbiton

I enjoy spotting opportunities and doing my best to grab them if I can. I am eager to see the world, I love taking photos and writing, coming up with topics that are pleasant to read, funny, and interesting at the same time.

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