Chance discovery

Very young gypsy moth caterpillars and unhatched eggs

Very young gypsy moth caterpillars and unhatched eggs

Pruning back the bough of a silverberry bush to make room to get by, I noticed that the part I’d cut off was covered with tiny black caterpillars embedded in a sort of orange fur.

Half an hour of research on the internet later, I concluded they’re the offspring of the Gypsy Moth, an extremely prolific and dangerous pest.

I learnt that they were introduced into the US by accident, when an entrepreneur who’d hoped to interbreed them with silk worms left some caterpillars on a windowsill and they blew away.

Trees can be stripped of their leaves – starting from the top where it’s less noticeable – and entire forests decimated by them.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, gypsy moth caterpillars have poisonous hairs that can cause skin rashes.

I’ll be keeping my eye out for more of these vicious little things!

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  1. April 13, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I’ve seen them here in our town too. But these were pretty big fellows, obviously already mature. The Italian name, I learned, is “processionali” because they travel in a row, as though in a procession. I almost moved them with a stick, but decided against it. So glad, as those hairs can become air-born and cause bad health problems (rashes & lung problems). Discovered all this because a friend posted something on Facebook! I also learned they are best eliminated by drowning. Do be careful and keep a watch out for them!!

    • April 13, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      Hi Sheila, Thank you for your very interesting comments. I certainly shall be looking out for them – no others yet, thank goodness!

      • April 13, 2016 at 6:16 pm

        Good! They had to remove a few pine trees here in our town. I guess they can kind of take over!

      • April 13, 2016 at 6:58 pm

        They don’t seem very picky about what they eat. The trouble is once there are some, there must be more. Wish us luck!

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