2020 has been a boom year for the Gypsy moth caterpillar, and the Department of Environmental Conservation has been receiving reports of unusually high Gypsy moth populations and leaf damage in several parts of New York State.
Gypsy moths are not native to New York, but they are naturalized into the eco-system, meaning that they will always be in our forests. They tend to have a population spike every 10 to 15 years, but it is usually offset by predators, disease, and other natural causes. The caterpillars are beginning to disappear now as they transition into the next cycle of their lives and become moths.
One year of defoliation is probably nor going to kill your trees, but over the course of a couple years it typically leads to tree death. The DEC will be monitoring Gypsy moth caterpillar populations to predict whether a major defoliation should be expected.
For more information on Gypsy moths in New York State, visit the DEC’s website.