Friday, June 17, 2016

Winter Moths


You wouldn't believe the devastation. Yesterday, the trail hikers hiked the French Trail in Borderlands.  It was hot and sticky because even though we were in the woods, there were no leaves on the trees.  Why?

Our leaves are being attacked by the Winter Moths.   "In the spring, our communities have witnessed an astonishing number of small, green caterpillars defoliating maples, oaks and other deciduous trees. The major caterpillar pest thought to be responsible for this foliar destruction was initially thought to be the fall cankerworm. However, in 2003, by collaborative work done by Deborah Swanson of Plymouth County Extension (retired), the late Robert Childs of UMass Extension, Dr. Joseph Elkinton of UMass, and Dr. David Wagner of UConn it was discovered that the damage was done by a newly introduced insect called the winter moth (Operophtera brumata), a member of the Geometridae family.
Initially, the hardest hit areas were in Eastern Massachusetts, especially southeastern MA, including Cape Cod. The winter moth's known range in Massachusetts and beyond is now much better understood due to the extensive pheromone trapping that has been orchestrated by Dr. Joseph Elkinton at the University of Massachusetts. Winter moth is at its heaviest numbers east of Route 495, on the North and South Shores, including Martha's Vineyard and most of Cape Cod, as well as in towns in and around Boston. However, it is also found as far west as Worcester. Winter moth is now established throughout Rhode Island and has been picked up in traps, in southeastern NH, coastal Maine, southeastern CT and out on Long Island, New York. Massachusetts still appears to have the largest and most damaging populations of this pest." Source: https://ag.umass.edu/fact-sheets/winter-moth-overview  
Disgusting! They were in our hats, hanging from the brims!  Oddly, we reached an open field where there weren't trees, just high grass. Across, the tree leaves were fine.  The moths were there.  Yet!  We plowed through the grass.  Then we checked each other for ticks.  The ticks seem to attach themselves from the hips up, not our ankles.  Lastly, we found some picnic tables to lunch on.  But first, we had to brush off what looked like pepper (Winter Moth turds).  Ugh!
This was our last hike for the season.

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