And now a surplus of moths brought to you by those lousy caterpillars
Ok. You’re sitting in your post gypsy-moth-caterpillar-invasion backyard with much less shade and perhaps noticing the trees beginning to make an effort toward returning a bit of foliage to your domain.
And just as the post traumatic frass syndrome has started to subside a bit you begin to notice a definite uptick in the amount of fluttering beings flitting about the yard.
And they’re not butterflies.
No, they are the end product of those bountiful bastards that took advantage of drought conditions to wreak havoc on our landscape.
Well, they’re not going to eat any more leaves this year. Their new focus is on hooking up.
We turned to our friends at MSU Extension for a little info and a bit of guidance as to what might be done prevention-wise to help forestall a repeat performance next year.
Approximately two weeks after cocooning, adult gypsy moths emerge for a short mating cycle.
The adult female and male moths look very different from each other. The female is larger than the male and is creamy white with black "V" markings on her fore-wings. Female moths cannot fly; she attracts a mate by emitting a powerful pheromone. Males are a mottled brown and gray and have large feathery antennae. They are similar in appearance to many native moths. They can be distinguished, however, by their behavior, as they fly in search of females in the late afternoon; not at night.
Males pick up the scent of the female pheromone with their antennae. The male flies in a zigzag pattern toward the source of the pheromone. Once he locates the female, he communicates by dancing over and around her while rapidly beating his wings and then the pair mates. Shortly after mating the female deposits her eggs in a single mass and covers it with the yellowish-tan colored hairs from her own body. The only function of the adult stage of the gypsy moth is to reproduce leaving behind as many as a thousand descendants.
Unlike many other moths and butterflies, the adult gypsy moth cannot feed. The moth has about 2 weeks to find a mate before death; completing their one year life cycle.
Egg masses will persist until next spring when the hatch begins. To lessen impacts next year, it is important to look for, remove and destroy egg masses.
To find out more about invasive gypsy moth life stages, identification and management, visit Michigan.gov/Invasives.