UTICA, N.Y. - According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, different parts of New York State are infested right now with gypsy moths.
“This happens every ten to 12 years," Lynette Kay with Cornell Cooperative Extension said. "Homeowners should be on the lookout for this.”
Gypsy moths have infested a couple of trees on Larchmont Avenue in North Utica.
Kay says they aren't dangerous to humans but they are very dangerous to certain types of trees. Gypsy moths in their caterpillar stage eat the leaves of a large variety of trees, including oak, maple, apple, crabapple, aspen, willow, birch, mountain ash, pine, spruce, and more.
The female moths are light colored and cannot fly. Male gypsy moths are a darker color and can fly.
“The caterpillars will crawl up into the canopy, they’ll eat the leaves off of it and the tree will actually be bare," Kay said. "Trees can usually take one year of this, but if it happens a couple years in a row, they’re going to starve to death because leaves are how a plant makes its food.”
The species is invasive but has been in the United States for about 100 years. According to the DEC, their populations can reach destructive levels and thousands of acres can be damaged.
Kay says one way you can get rid of them is to scrape their larva off of the tree with a spoon into a bucket filled with water and soap.
“You want to get as much as you can because anything you leave has a future generation of caterpillars," Kay said. "So you can’t scrape onto the ground and leave them down there because they can still pupate and grow.”
She says if the problem isn't solved now, it can be devastating to trees within the next couple of years.
“This is going to be very sad for the trees, it might not be so bad next year, but then the following year it's going to be really bad so anything we can do," Kay said. "Now that we’re home and we can’t do anything, you can go out and scrape moths off your trees.”
You can find products on the market to help get rid of them. Kay says you just have to make sure gypsy moths are on the label. If the tree is completely infested, you may have to call in a professional.