These Insects Could Make A Meal Out Of Trees In Maine This Summer
Over the last few decades, we have heard a lot about the problems caused by "invasive species".
An invasive species is any plant or animal that does not originate in a given area, but has invaded that area. Once in that area, the invasive species takes resources from native plants and animals. Invasive animals (or insects) eat up food that native animals would be eating and invasive plants often overwhelm
It looks like we have a new invasive species to worry about in Maine. The Spongy Moth. The critter formerly known as the Gypsy Moth has a population that rises and falls through a 10 to 15 year cycle. It appears we are reaching the peak of one of these cycles.
According to the State of Maine, the Spongy Moths:
generally feed in hardwood trees and cause severe defoliation that can lead to growth loss and dieback as well as make affected trees more susceptible to other stressors. Healthy hardwoods can survive several consecutive growing seasons of defoliation by gypsy moth before the pest causes significant impacts. Softwoods, which are defoliated after hardwoods have been stripped, can succumb to gypsy moth feeding in a single season.
The website also says that these pests spread by "ballooning", which entails them floating great distances on the wind by using a silk thread as a balloon or parachute. On top of that, their egg pouches can be carried by cars, trucks, RVs, and other vehicles.
According to the US Forestry Service, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and several other New England states are in the current invasion front of the moths / caterpillars.
If you happen to encounter a large number of these critters, you can report them to the State of Maine HERE.