Residents Itching to Get Rid of Rash-Causing Caterpillar

WRIGHT TOWNSHIP--- The gypsy moth caterpillar might look harmless, but people in Luzerne County are itching to get rid of them and the rashes they cause.

"My son Robert has them all over his arms," Rice Township resident Carol Duffy said.

The caterpillars are about the length and width of a pencil tip right now and will be fully grown in three weeks.

The damage they cause in the Mountain Top area is devastating.

State officials said the leaf eating caterpillars have killed off millions of oak trees over the years.

"It's just awful to clean up. The droppings are very bad. It's not a very pleasant time of the year for some of our residents," Wright Township Secretary-Treasurer Joan Malkemes said.

Experts said the pests have populated to the point where they are eating plants they have never eaten before.

"Last year we saw a lot of them eating some evergreen plant material. So it seems that they are adapting to what is out there because of the overpopulation," George Burger, Owner of George Burger and Sons Garden Center, said.

The Luzerne County government will not be spraying the caterpillars this year. County officials said it actually ends up costing taxpayers double to have the county do it, rather than having residents hire professionals on their own.

Burger said people have been pouring in to buy do-it-yourself caterpillar killer spray at his garden supply store.

He sells an environmentally friendly option Monterey B.T. and Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew.

"We've been selling both these products in the last two weeks faster than we can keep it on the shelf," Burger said.

This weekend's wet weather could kill off a lot of these caterpillars because they are in their infancy right now.

"I hope they all die so they don't make my son itchy and all that," Duffy said.

Experts said these caterpillars become moths by late summer and lay eggs in the fall. The cycle starts over again in spring when the new caterpillars are born.

2 comments

  • Hope Moffitt

    Ok spray more cancer causing chemicals and prob also kill lots of other wildlife in the process. Morons. There’s other ways to deal with this

  • Hope Moffitt

    Ok spray more cancer causing chemicals and prob also kill lots of other wildlife in the process. Morons. There’s other ways to deal with this

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