Best Gypsy Moth Control Methods

| September 12, 2018

Learn all about best gypsy moth control methods.

The European Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) is an invasive forest pest that was introduced accidentally in the United States in 1869. Since then, the Gypsy Moth has expanded its range over much of the eastern United States and Canada.

It was first detected in Ontario in 1969 and has quickly spread across southern Ontario over the next decade. It is now well established throughout southern Ontario and as far north as Sault Ste. Marie.

Gypsy moths feed on a broad range of trees. Oaks, poplars, willow, birch, white pine, blue spruce and many fruit trees are all at risk for defoliation when gypsy moth populations are high. Defoliation of trees and forests was a common occurrence from 1985 to 1999 as this exotic moth spread across Michigan, without the natural controls that keep native species of caterpillars in balance. A few parasites, predators and a viral pathogen were known to attack the gypsy moth larvae, but did not keep populations of gypsy moth down for long.

Oaks are the caterpillars preferred trees, but gypsy moth caterpillars have quite a large menu. They can feed on over 300 species of trees and shrubs. Other preferred hosts can include poplar, birch, witch hazel and alder. The strong smelling roots of some tress and spices such as garlic, onions, horseradish, ginger, rhubarb leaves, cayenne and other hot peppers, are all known to repel insects.

Best Gypsy Moth Control Methods

What are Gypsy Moths?

Gypsy moths are an invasive insect that, as caterpillars, have hairy bodies dotted with blue and red spots. When they hatch, they’re only about one-sixteenth of an inch, but can grow to be more than three inches long by the time they form cocoons about six weeks later.

Homemade Gypsy Moth Control Spray

Homemade gypsy moth control sprays include the followings.

  • Combine 2 tablespoons canola oil and 1 teaspoon liquid soap with 2 cups warm water. Funnel the solution into a spray bottle and spritz caterpillars liberally. Don’t use this on orchids, squashes or hairy-leafed plants.
  • You can make caterpillar killing spray with fresh peppers. Wear gloves and eye protection and finely chop enough habanero peppers to fill 1/2 cup. Crush 6 garlic cloves. Puree the peppers and garlic with 2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon liquid soap in the blender. Pour the mixture into a quart glass jar and cap it tightly. Set it in direct sun for two days. Strain the pepper solution through a coffee filter into a spray bottle. Spray caterpillars generously.

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Infestation

The gypsy moth caterpillar has five pairs of bluish warts followed by six rows of red warts running down the length of its back. The gypsy moth infestation may or may not turn out to be a huge problem. The gypsy moth caterpillar will pupate in mid-July and trees will be further stressed, defoliate and likely shed a second set of leaves

Gypsy Moth Control Spray Home Depot

Gypsy moth control spray by home depot is Safer’s BTK Caterpillar Killer 100mL Concentrate.

  • Controls caterpillars including cabbage worm, tomato hornworm, tent caterpillars, gypsy moth, leafrollers, and other listed insects
  • Can be used on vegetables, fruit, trees, and ornamentals
  • Active Ingredient: Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki, strain ABTS-51

This can be purchased at most garden centers, and it also kills gypsy moth caterpillars. Caterpillar Killer with B.T. is a safe, easy-to-use and effective control for caterpillars including tent caterpillars, gypsy moths, spring and fall cankerworm, Spruce budworm, Jack Pine Budworm and other insects which infect shade trees, ornamentals and evergreens. It utilizes Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki) which, once ingested by the wayward caterpillar or worm, kills them within a few days.

Horticultural Oil for Gypsy Moths

Horticultural oils for gypsy moths are also available. The horticultural oils are mainly refined petroleum products. More recently the list has expended to include extracts from the seed of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) and some vegetable oils such as cottonseed and soybean oils. The horticultural oils or “dormant” oils as they are often referred to, can and should be used as very effective control materials for insects that overwinter on the bark, under bark scales, in crevasses, etc.

Oil programs are aimed primarily at scale species, adelgids, aphids, mealy bugs, mites, plant bugs (eggs and nymphs), psyllids, eggs of certain moths (fall cankerworm, webworm) leafhoppers, leafrollers (eggs and young larvae), Gypsy moths (eggs and young larvae) and fall web worms (eggs and young larvae). Once on the target pest, oil damages the membranes and the waxy layer of the exoskeleton resulting in suffocation. Timely application of oil will lead to fewer applications of miticides and insecticides later in the season. Oils fit well in IPM and resistance management programs. Toxicity is not a major issue since oil evaporates relatively quickly leaving very little residue.

The unsulfonated residue or degree of refinement to remove sulfur impurities of 92% and above is preferred. The higher the percentage the more refine the oil. These highly refined oils are known as “Superior Oils.” There are several trade names for them like, Sun Ultra-Fine Oil, Sun spray, Superior 70 Oil, Supreme Oil, Trilogy (neem product), etc.

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