Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hoping for the Fungus

Rainy evening 
All the rain this spring has had a few delightful side effects.
The gardens have loved all the water, I got some worm poop out there, which gave them a nice burst of energy and things are rapidly filling in. I've been transplanting, dividing as needed and resetting the walls and terraces in the back border on the sunnier days. 

Practically Frothing!
The other effect is that the gypsy moths* may suffer sizable losses due to fungus that reacts to moisture and is one of the few things that can disrupt a cycle of sizable infestations.
I am all for a sizable losses in population. Infestations like last years are awful, it feels like a full on zombie attack. They just keep coming... chewing, pooping and GROWING. 
They hatch in masses of tiny caterpillars about a centimeter long and as thick as kitchen twine.
Not much happens at first, a week  or so later you begin to see a few holes in some seedlings...
Gypsy Moth*
Soon they are as thick as yarn, covered in pricklies and consuming some of the low growth, baby oaks are their favorite, stripped to twigs. 
It goes on for weeks.
Damage is widespread.
Rt 102, June 2016
At 3cm long  first the tops then whole oaks start to go, chewed to twigs and rags. 
If you stand still near the trees you will hear a light rainfall. Its the sound of chewing and the poop dropping onto everything below.  

Morning Walk, June 2016
Poop collects with a mass of leaf bits, they are sloppy as well as voracious. Other delightful qualities include: crawling all over the walls of houses and sheds to shelter during the day, a covering of stiff hairs that can cause a nasty rash and they squirt green goo when stomped on.
They keep growing until they are about 4 cm long then continue to swarm from tree to tree at night. After finishing the oaks they go on to the white pines, blueberry bushes and decorative stuff like our blue spruce.  

Damage, 2016
Then gestation and a huge swarm of moths that mate, lay more masses of eggs, and finally die. 
It was harrowing to me. I began to feel unhinged. I prefer the fungus.

*gypsy moths are an introduced species in NA, They were brought here for commercial gain, got out, spread across the country, and now wreak havoc on the native flora and fauna.
That is a perfect definition of colonization.

My thoughts on this are that if they are going to have a name that is a slur they should be named after what they act like... so I think “White Settler Moths” would be more appropriate! 


jude said...

they have been so awful here in years past but the odd back and forth of cold and hot in early spring has really destroyed their numbers. I did not see even a trace of them this year. I remember being able to hear them eating in seasons past. it was creepy. and in a month there were No leaves.

alsokaizen said...

we are almost to the pupae stage now and the fungus is kicking in