Expert Hopes Rain (and Fungus) Will Curb Gypsy Moth Population

Jun 13, 2017

An expert on insects is banking on more rain -- and a fungus -- to knock back populations of gypsy moths.

For the past two years, those hungry pests have plagued trees in Rhode Island and Connecticut. A fungus can control the pests, but it’s only effective when the ground’s wet. That’s why Connecticut State Entomologist Kirby Stafford wants to see more rain.

“The fungus is starting to catch hold, but the mortality hasn’t yet risen to the point yet where it’s really benefiting homeowners seeing their trees hit this year,” Stafford said.

Stafford said he's hopeful more rain in the next two weeks will yield more fungal spread – killing more caterpillars and interrupting the breeding cycle. That would mean fewer caterpillars to plague trees next year.

If your tree is infested with gypsy moths -- there are things you can do: call a licensed arborist or even wrap your tree in non-sticky plastic at its base.

“We had a woman who sent in a picture where she used Saran Wrap as a tree band around her trees - and the caterpillars didn't want to go past that,” Stafford said. “They're migrating up and down the trees now and it blocks them from getting back up into the trees.”