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Fungus to the Rescue!

Gypsy Moth has been the topic of much discussion this season. After signs of the pest in 2016 and a record breaking drought, Massachusetts was on track for the worst outbreak since 1981. Egg masses on the trees forewarned a scene reminiscent of a horror film. The cool spring weather tempered the initial eruption and hefty rainfall assisted in reducing the amount of caterpillars that could have hatched. However, when the sun came out, the beginning of the season proved to be very destructive. Caterpillars went to work immediately, munching through entire trees in just a few days. Hiking through the forest, or driving through Metrowest Boston, one would get the impression that it is mid-winter.

Is there any good news in all of this? Yes! The very wet spring encouraged the growth of a fungus that is a natural predator to the Gypsy Moth caterpillar. This fungus has taken effect on those that could have done much more damage....killing them quickly. This will prevent those caterpillars from pupating, turning into moths, and laying eggs for future seasons. This is all encouraging as we look forward to next year.

If you have questions about how your trees fared through this drama, our certified arborists would be happy to take a look. Most trees can withstand one season of defoliation, but two seasons and the recent drought may require a little extra TLC.

Warning....if you don't like "icky bug pictures", breeze through these photos quickly! :)

Gypsy Moth caterpillars will eat nearly any kind of tree. Here, they have defoliated White Pine.

Overlooking Medfield and the widespread destruction of Gypsy Moth caterpillars this year.

If it weren't for the shorts we're wearing in this picture, you would likely believe we were taking a winter walk through the woods. This is what it looked like on the trails on Rocky Narrows in Sherborn, MA on June 25, 2017.

A deadly fungus has been reintroduced to the landscape thanks to our wet spring. The fungus attacks Gypsy Moth caterpillars and kills them quickly. Luckily, these guys will not be able to pupate, turn into moths, and lay eggs for next season.

A common site when the fungus attacks the caterpillars. They lose their grip and die, falling over backwards.

Caterpillars will often look "dehydrated" as they begin to wither away on the tree.

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