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Good Question: What's invading the Finger Lakes?

Brennan Somers
Created: June 25, 2020 04:50 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Our “Good Question” has to do with a part of the Finger Lakes under attack.

News10NBC’s Brennan Somers got this message from a viewer named Brad in Ontario County: “Gypsy moth caterpillars, yikes! Where did they all come from? Why now?”

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Those are good questions and Brad isn't the only person asking them. Our news partners at the Messenger Post caught pictures of these leaf-eating pests causing havoc for neighbors.

News10NBC also went down to see the problem first-hand.

Gypsy moth caterpillars are covering homes, trees, and just about everything in South Bristol and around Bristol Mountain. Neighbors say they showed up in early June.

“There is a serious outbreak of gypsy moth caterpillars this year in the Bristol Mountain area and several other locations within Ontario County,” Russell Welser Sr., resource educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ontario County told MPNnow.com said. “Trees are being defoliated. This caterpillar in its later growth stage can eat up to a square foot of leaf surface in a single day.”

Addressing concerns, Welser wrote:

“Trees and shrubs in the home landscape can be chemically treated with an insecticide, but time is running out. If you are going to take this action you need to do it now, within the next 7-10 days. In some cases, it may be too late to be cost-effective. For others, the cost is just too much to have them treated. They are going to wait it out and hope for the best. Hardwood trees (oaks, maples, hickories, etc.) may be able to survive two or more years of defoliation if they are in good health to begin with. Evergreens on the other hand are likely to die after one year of defoliation.”

The caterpillar stage lasts about seven weeks and this problem comes in cycles. The caterpillars can run in high numbers for two to three years, so next year could be just as bad.

Other than seeing them, you can also hear if you have an invasion. It sounds like rain, but it's actually caterpillar droppings. Neighbors say they can't go outside without wearing hats.

If you have a question you would like answered, send an e-mail to GoodQuestion@whec.com.


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