Mid-spring marks the start of the spongy moth caterpillar feeding season. The caterpillar stage is the most destructive stage, and caused a lot of defoliation of Niskayuna residents’ trees last year.
To prepare for this year, if you plan to have your trees treated by an arborist, the best timeframe to do this is the end of March to the end of May.
There are several DIY options available:
- In late April, sticky bands/barriers may be placed around a tree’s trunk to prevent caterpillars from crawling up it once they have hatched. If you plan to use a band, check it frequently to ensure other unintended wildlife does not get caught in it, and replace after rain events or when it is no longer sticky. Here is more information on how to make your own barrier bands. https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/spongymothinwisconsin/pest-management-2/making-a-sticky-barrier-band/
- In mid-June, when caterpillars are larger, you may want to replace the sticky bands with a burlap trap. Here is information on how to make your own burlap trap. https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/spongymothinwisconsin/pest-management-2/making-a-burlap-barrier-band-trap/
- If you have just a few caterpillars, you can kill them by squishing them. Egg masses can be destroyed by scraping them off trees into a bucket of detergent. Do not scrape them off onto the ground, as they can still survive.
The Niskayuna Tree Council held a seminar last summer on this topic with NY DEC Forester Scott Moxham that provides a lot of valuable information on this topic. You can watch that seminar at the following link: https://niskayunatreecouncil.org/spongy-moth-seminar-given-by-nys-forester-scott-moxham-june-16-2022/
Additional information can also be found on the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation website at: https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/83118.html
By preparing now, hopefully, Niskayuna residents’ trees will be less impacted this year than they were last year.
Also, our annual Arbor Day event will be held on Sat., April 29 from 11:00 am -1:00 pm at the Niskayuna Town Hall. We will be handing out free trees to residents and will have several Arbor Day booths and other activities. Please come join us!