2011-05-26 / Letters to the Editor

Unwanted pests invade Jamestown

Have you noticed small green worms ravenously eating tree leaves around town? They are winter moth caterpillars, a pest that came from Europe about 1950.

In Europe predators and parasites keep the moth in check, but New England lacks these natural controls. In some years there are few winter moths, then for some unknown reason there will be a population explosion. That is what is happening this year.

A large concentration of winter moth caterpillars can strip a tree of its leaves. Defoliated trees must put out a second flush of growth in order to survive. Supplemental watering of defoliated trees will be necessary if there is a drought this summer.

Winter moths will be active in Jamestown until early June when they drop to the ground, spin a cocoon and pupate. If there is a severe outbreak, professionals can spray to control the caterpillars. In situations where spraying is not practical, professionals can inject trees with chemicals to control caterpillars. This treatment lasts three years.

You can find more information on winter moths at the Tree Preservation and Protection Committee section of the Town of Jamestown Web site.

Jim Rugh
Jamestown Tree Preservation and Protection

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