LDD moths

Commonly known as the gypsy moth, the LDD moth is an insect native to Europe and Asia that has been severely weakening trees across North America.

LDD Moths in Quinte West

Save the trees! The City of Quinte West is asking for your help to combat an infestation of the LDD moth. This invasive species is in our area, and nearly four out of five rural properties could be at risk. The time to act is now to protect our hardwood trees! Read on to learn more about LDD moths, what the City of Quinte West is doing to protect trees on municipal property, and how you can protect the trees in your areaDon’t let LDD moths put a hole in your summer plans or your property value!

The LDD moth is an insect native to Europe and Asia that has been severely weakening trees across North America.

LDD moth caterpillars defoliate host trees, mostly hardwood species, such as: oak, birch, poplar, willow, maple and others. During outbreak years, nearly all broadleaf trees may be completely defoliated, caterpillars appear everywhere, and “frass” (caterpillar droppings) appear to rain from the trees.

The LDD moth was formerly known as the ‘gypsy moth’. More information can be found on the Ontario government’s website.

A LDD moth infestation can impact an area in a number of ways. In the short term, high populations of larvae cause defoliation that affects the aesthetic and recreational value of an infested area. Eggs hatch in the spring, and larvae begin cutting small holes in the surface of leaves before working their way to the edge.

By the time larvae feeding is completed, normally by early to mid-July, one larva may have consumed up to one square meter of foliage. In the long term, an LDD moth infestation can cause twig, branch and, in some cases, whole tree mortality, invasion from secondary pests such as rot, and thin tree canopies.

In 2021, the LDD moth defoliated 18,000 square kilometres of Ontario forest – an area three times the size of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

Also, in the short term, egg masses, caterpillars, droppings, and moths may be a nuisance to the public. Full-grown larvae are hairy and range in length from 35 – 90mm.

The City of Quinte West will be spraying City-owned property severely affected by the LDD moth infestation.

In December 2021, Council endorsed that private property owners are able to coordinate with private service providers to manage their own infestation.

One company available as provided in the report provided to Council is the Ontario Centre for Forest Defoliator Control, reachable at 1-888-276-9372 or ocfdc.com.

Discussion from the Council meeting held on Dec. 6, 2021

Additionally, you can visit our Gypsy Moth “Get Involved” page on the City of Quinte West website.

LDD moths are expected to be most prevalent on rural properties in Quinte West.

Several factors affect how a tree responds to LDD moth defoliation including:

  •   the amount of foliage removed
  •   the weather and rainfall
  •   the number of years of repeated defoliation
  •   the timing of defoliation in the growing season
  •   the presence and number of other insects and diseases, and
  •   the health and vigor of the tree at the time of defoliation, including its crown condition

For example, damage from the LDD moth may increase substantially if trees are growing on poor sites or if defoliation occurs during the same period as drought.

Most healthy trees can withstand a single year of moderate to severe defoliation, but two to three years of heavy defoliation (less than or equal to 50%) can result in the death of the branch or the whole tree.

What can I do about LDD moths on my property?

If you are a rural property owner with a hardwood tree or trees on your property and you are concerned about the presence of LDD moths on your property, or a neighbour’s property, you should:

Step 1: Report the sighting on our GetInvolved tool. This helps us to monitor the moth’s spread through our community.

Step 2: Consider booking a Btk pesticide spraying to eliminate most of the caterpillars. This may be done through the Ontario Centre for Forest Defoliator Control, a private company. This should be done as soon as possible to secure spraying for spring 2022.

Btk Spray can also be purchased from local merchants if you wish to spray your property and trees yourself

Step 3: If you cannot afford to spray, are unable to secure an appointment, or are otherwise unable to book spraying, you may also consider other options including burlap banding (June – August) and pheromone traps. Details of these management techniques are below.

Now to May: Egg Mass Removal

Survey your property for egg masses and scrape them off surfaces into soapy water to destroy them.

Required Supplies

  • A flat object such as a butter knife or plastic paint scraper
  • Catchment container or bag to collect the egg masses
  • Bucket of soapy water. Dish soap works well

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Place your catchment container below the egg mass
  2. Use your scraper tool to remove the egg mass from the surface. Ensure that all eggs are scraped. Try not to leave any residual eggs in bark ridges or crevices
  3. Empty the contents of your catchment container or bag into a bucket of soapy water
  4. Leave the eggs sitting in the bucket for a day or two, then dispose of the contents in the garbage. Don’t scrape egg masses onto the ground; this does not necessarily kill the eggs and some may still hatch next spring

Egg masses can be located high up in trees. Be safe if trying to access anything up high, especially if using ladders. Some private tree care companies can be hired to provide this service at heights.

May to July: Hand Pick Caterpillars

Handpicking caterpillars is most effective on small newly planted trees, shrubs, and plants infested with LDD moth. If possible, gently shake the tree so caterpillars fall from leaves. Thoroughly inspect the remaining foliage, branches, and trunk for caterpillars and using gloves, pick them off your tree. Fallen and collected caterpillars should be placed and left to soak in soapy water to destroy them.

May to September: Burlap Banding

Once LDD Moth caterpillars grow to about an inch (2.5 cm) in length by mid-June, they will move down the trunk to seek shelter from predators and heat. Reduce the number of caterpillars on the trees in your yard by trapping them.

Required Supplies

  • Burlap cloth
  • Twine or rope
  • Bucket of soapy water. Dish soap works well

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Wrap and secure a piece of burlap cloth around the stem/trunk of your tree
  2. Tie twine or rope around the center or slightly below the center of the burlap
  3. Drape the burlap cloth over the twine or rope so there is an overhang where the caterpillars can crawl underneath to seek shelter during the day
  4. Check the trap by lifting the overhanging burlap cloth every afternoon and collect any hiding caterpillars
  5. Put them into a bucket of soapy water for a few days to destroy them

Step 4: If you see LDD moths on your property, notify your neighbours! They may also wish to spray their trees or take steps to protect their property. Doing so will provide the best possible protection for your trees, increasing the likelihood they will survive the year.

Thanks for doing your part to help keep Quinte West green!

 

What are the advantages of taking action against LDD moths on my property?

Without any intervention, LDD moths have the potential to cause severe widespread defoliation to the urban canopy within Quinte West in 2022. The combination of high egg mass counts, a high proportion of new egg masses (71%), and an overall average egg mass size on the larger size (2.86cm), indicates that this is a healthy population and a widespread population collapse in 2022 is unlikely.

Direct human health consequences may include allergic reactions to LDD moth larval hairs and safety hazards created by caterpillars coating sidewalks and driveways. Indirect human health consequences may include increased air pollution, local climate extremes, and increased noise pollution associated with a reduction in forest canopy.

The impacts of LDD moth on tree health typically become an issue when severe defoliation occurs over several successive years of defoliation.

Given that defoliation was reported to be significant throughout the city during the summer of 2021, a consecutive year of severe defoliation may start to have a negative impact on long-term tree health especially if other environmental stressors are present (i.e. drought, poor growing conditions, secondary pests/disease, etc.).

While there is no guarantee on timelines, historically, outbreaks typically occur over a three-year time period, typically collapsing back to low densities within one to three years of an outbreak. Therefore, Quinte West could reasonably expect to see at least another year or two of severe defoliation in 2022 and 2023 before populations collapse.

It is possible your property will be affected if your neighbours don’t action. If you spot large, hairy, purple caterpillars in your area, encourage your neighbours to work together to tackle this issue.

Btk is approved for urban aerial use by Health Canada. Btk is a biological control made from a naturally occurring bacterium found in soil that poses no threat to human health or drinking water. It does not affect adult moths, butterflies, bees, fish, or mammals, and it biodegrades quickly in the environment.

Now to May: Egg Mass Removal

Survey your property for egg masses and scrape them off surfaces into soapy water to destroy them.

Required Supplies

  • A flat object such as a butter knife or plastic paint scraper
  • Catchment container or bag to collect the egg masses
  • Bucket of soapy water. Dish soap works well

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Place your catchment container below the egg mass
  2. Use your scraper tool to remove the egg mass from the surface. Ensure that all eggs are scraped. Try not to leave any residual eggs in bark ridges or crevices
  3. Empty the contents of your catchment container or bag into a bucket of soapy water
  4. Leave the eggs sitting in the bucket for a day or two, then dispose of the contents in the garbage. Don’t scrape egg masses onto the ground; this does not necessarily kill the eggs and some may still hatch next spring

Egg masses can be located high up in trees. Be safe if trying to access anything up high, especially if using ladders. Some private tree care companies can be hired to provide this service at heights.

May to July: Hand Pick Caterpillars

Handpicking caterpillars is most effective on small newly planted trees, shrubs, and plants infested with LDD moth. If possible, gently shake the tree so caterpillars fall from leaves. Thoroughly inspect the remaining foliage, branches, and trunk for caterpillars and using gloves, pick them off your tree. Fallen and collected caterpillars should be placed and left to soak in soapy water to destroy them.

May to September: Burlap Banding

Once LDD Moth caterpillars grow to about an inch (2.5 cm) in length by mid-June, they will move down the trunk to seek shelter from predators and heat. Reduce the number of caterpillars on the trees in your yard by trapping them.

Required Supplies

  • Burlap cloth
  • Twine or rope
  • Bucket of soapy water. Dish soap works well

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Wrap and secure a piece of burlap cloth around the stem/trunk of your tree
  2. Tie twine or rope around the center or slightly below the center of the burlap
  3. Drape the burlap cloth over the twine or rope so there is an overhang where the caterpillars can crawl underneath to seek shelter during the day
  4. Check the trap by lifting the overhanging burlap cloth every afternoon and collect any hiding caterpillars
  5. Put them into a bucket of soapy water for a few days to destroy them

Ontario Centre for Forest Defoliator Control
P.O. Box 98
Chatham, Ontario N7M 5K1
1-888-276-9372 Toll Free
226-996-9702

For more information on the City of Quinte West’s plans for addressing LDD moths on municipal land, please contact:

City of Quinte West
Public Works and Environmental Services
City Hall
7 Creswell Drive, Trenton ON
T. 613-392-2841, ext. 4912
publicworks@quintewest.ca

Last Updated: 2 days ago

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