Rainy Weather Keeps Gypsy Moth Caterpillars at Bay

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP -- Last year, oak trees at Kettle Creek Environmental Center near Stroudsburg were covered with creepy, crawly insects better known as gypsy moth caterpillars.

However, that isn't the case this year.

"What had the potential to be a really bad year for gypsy moth infestation hasn't turned out to be so and we can attribute all that to the weather," said Darryl Speicher, Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center.

Speicher is an environmental educator at the center. He says the cold and wet spring we had helped control the gypsy moth population this year.

Speicher says the critters are killed off by a fungus.

"When we have high egg mass counts, we know there is going to be a problem. But when gypsy moths hatch, and then we have a cold wet spring, there are naturally occurring pathogens in the environment that help control them for us," said Speicher.

Officials in Monroe County say the number of people calling to report gypsy moth infestation is actually down. In fact, they didn't even have to partner with the state to spray this year, which saved a lot of money.

"It does save the county money, and it also saves the residents money when they opt for private sprayers. They are a little less expensive and there are less hoops to jump through," said Evan Makuvek, Monroe County Environmental Planner.

Makuvek says the lack of rain we had last year made for a bad gypsy moth caterpillar season, but this year, it is noticeably different.

"These populations also flux like any other population so since there was a boom in the last two or three years, we can definitely see a decrease, hopefully, in the next few years," said Makuvek.

Officials say to prevent gypsy moth caterpillars from infesting, people should keep an eye out for eggs on trees during the fall and winter months.

The best time to do any spraying is in May.