17November 25, 2015
The onslaught has begun. The winter moths have hatched out and you will see them flying across roads, clinging to your windows when the lights are on in your house and they are even flying around your trees. The flying around the tree part is where the trouble begins for your plants. The males and the females will mate and the females will lay clusters of eggs on the trunks of your trees and on your blueberry bushes and whatever else is a good food source for the tiny caterpillars that will hatch from those eggs come the spring.
There has been a lot of talk and a lot of research done on the control of the moths. There is also a lot of speculation about things that may work on controlling the adults. I have heard that some people have been using bug zappers to attract the moths and to them electrocute the moths. Some have suggested spraying the moths with insecticides. The list of “ maybe “ ideas goes on and on. The problem is that the sheer numbers of moths that have hatched out will make the “ maybe “ efforts useless. There is some research that says that you can spray the trunk of the trees with horticultural oil to suffocate the eggs after the female winter moth lays the eggs. However, the oil has to be applied when the temperatures are above 40 degrees. This may be a hard thing to do in the late fall because of the declining temperatures. You may have a chance to apply the oil in late winter if you spray the tree trunks before the leaves come out on the trees. The air temperature that makes the leaves come out on the trees is also the temperature that makes the eggs hatch. At that point, spraying the trunk is useless.
There are systemic and biological methods that you can use to control the caterpillars in the spring. As is the case with most insects, the timing of the application of insecticides is critical if you are going to effectively control the caterpillars in the spring. The unfortunate thing is that many people wait until the caterpillars have done major damage before starting a control program. In the late winter, I will write about the different control methods you can use to control the winter moth caterpillars.
Thanksgiving is upon us and I would like to give thanks to all of the people who read this column in the paper and to those of you who read the column online. I started writing this column in 1987 with the intent of giving you information on gardening that is relevant for this area. Many of you have told me how much the column helps you with being a more successful gardener. For all education I have given that makes you a better gardener is one of the things for which I am grateful at this time of the year.
As is our tradition at the store, we will be closed on Thanksgiving. We open at 9 AM on Friday with the opening of our Christmas decorating shop. For the past 33 years, we have provided some of the best holiday decorating items to make your home or office festive for the holiday season. If you haven’t visited our store during the holidays, please stop by to see all we have to offer.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.