The indiscriminate increase of these insects has caused the trees to rapidly lose their leaves and has desperate the population suffering skin eruptions from excess excrement on terraces, cars, and parks.
An infestation of gypsy moth caterpillars makes its way through upstate New York. It turns shady green trees into brown skeletons, covering decks and picnic tables with feces, swarming over houses and cars, causing uncomfortable eruptions, and in general scaring people.
The insects feed on the leaves of more than 500 different trees and shrubs, causing the complete defoliation of large areas of oaks (their species of choice) but are now attacking apple and pine trees.
"There is no green vegetation at all. It almost looks like everything was hit by a nuclear bomb or a chemical, killing everything in sight hundreds of meters through the forest, "Dwight Relation, a West Chazy sector resident, told Syracuse News.
The feces produced by the caterpillars have been accumulating in residential areas, causing discomfort to residents, who are beginning to get skin rashes from the abundance of fecal material in their homes and yards.
"It looks like it's raining in the backyard," Shannon Warwick said. This is nonsense.
According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), trees may survive, expecting them to produce new leaves in midsummer. Still, the real threat is continued defoliation that threatens to weaken and make them susceptible to diseases and other pests. This could lead to the death of large sections of forests and orchards.
Gypsy moth populations peak every 10 to 15 years and then increase for about two to three years until they are finally attacked by viruses and bacteria that infect the caterpillars. This would be the first year of that two- to three-year cycle, said Rob Cole, a DEC forester.
According to Ann Hajek, a Cornell University entomology professor who studies a fungus that attacks the moth, healthy trees will generally outgrow the defoliation of the gypsy moth.
Hajek said that if the tree is a very stressful tree, such as something that was recently planted or an ancient oak part of which has already died, the tree may die. What we usually see is that in about a month, the tree pulls out another set of leaves and it doesn't die.
It is the caterpillars, not the moths, that do the damage. A caterpillar is about 3 centimeters long when it hatches but grows up to 5 centimeters long at this time of year as it devours the leaves. A single caterpillar can consume a square foot of leaves every day. All those green leafy vegetables produce a lot of feces or droppings.
"It's an outrage to hit the ground and make noises," Hajek said. It spreads to your roof and your car.
That is why cases of people complaining about the caterpillar infestation flood the comments section on the DEC Facebook account. A comment reads: "My children and I were hiking in Lockport last week. There were hundreds of them falling from the trees and directly onto our clothes. You couldn't even walk without stepping on them. It was the stuff that dreams are made of !!".
Gypsy moths were brought to the United States from France by a French businessman in 1869 to establish a silkworm industry. The caterpillars turned out to be poor silk producers. According to a popular account, some larvae were expelled into the open air from a window in Medford, Massachusetts, from where they have constantly been expanding and are now found from Minnesota to North Carolina.
According to experts, in July, these animals will become cocoons, and in a couple of weeks, they will emerge as moths. Meanwhile, DEC advises people to scrape egg masses from trees and drown the caterpillars in soapy water. A procedure in which you have to be very careful because touching the stinging hairs on the body of the caterpillars with your hands can cause irritation and produce rashes.