The Gypsy Moth is an invasive species from Europe. Every 7 to 10 years, there is a population boom.
This spring, the City of Markham continues to fight the most recent infestation by removing eggs from street trees. Residents can help by doing the same for trees on their property.
Gypsy Moths prefer oak trees but will also eat the leaves of birch, aspen, sugar maple, beech, pine, fir and spruce trees.
If you own a tree, now is the time to check the trunk and underneath the branches for light brown rows of egg clumps. If not stopped, caterpillars will hatch now until early May. There are so many of them that they can eat all the leaves from your tree and weaken it.
There are two ways to stop the Gypsy Moth.
First, you can scrape off the eggs with a plastic paint scraper, spatula or butter knife into a container. Be careful not to injure the tree. Soak these eggs in soapy water for 48 hours to kill what’s inside, then put in the garbage. If you find eggs very high up, you may have to get help from a certified arborist.
If you’re too late and the eggs have hatched, you can lay a trap. In June, the caterpillars will start crawling down the tree to hide from predators and the sun’s heat. This is your chance. Wrap a piece of burlap cloth around the trunk and check under it every afternoon. Knock any caterpillars off into soapy water and soak for 48 hours before putting them in the garbage. Remember to wear gloves when handling the caterpillars to avoid skin irritation or reactions.
For detailed print and video instructions, more information and photos, visit markham.ca/trees and click on “Tree Care”.