Numbers were up this year for a destructive, invasive pest in Wisconsin. The 2008 gypsy moth trapping season has ended, and based on the number of moths caught, it may mean more required treatment in 2009, according to the state Ag Department.
Trapping gypsy moths is a measuring tool, and it shows where the moths are located and the extent of their population. A total of 385,554 male moths were caught in 2008, surpassing last year's total of some 293,000. Approximately 30,000 traps were set in 52 counties this summer as part of the Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Program .
Trapping data helps determine potential sites for egg mass surveys and next year's aerial spray treatments. Earlier this year, nearly 80-thousand acres in 13 counties received treatment. Treatment sites for 2009 are yet to be determined.
There is no definitive reason for the increase of moths, but one possibility may be the natural cycle of gypsy moth populations, according to Gypsy Moth Trapping Coordinator Chris Whitney
From now until spring, people can help decrease the number of next year's caterpillars by treating or removing egg masses. A gypsy moth egg mass is tan, oval or tear-shaped and a little bigger than a quarter. It is flat and has a velvety texture. Egg masses can be found on trees, vehicles, fences, playground equipment, buildings and any outdoor item. An egg mass can hold 500 to 1,000 eggs.
Egg masses can be scraped off with a putty knife, stiff brush or similar hand tool and dropped into a container of warm, soapy water. Let them soak for a couple of days and discard them in the trash. Horticultural oil also can be sprayed onto egg masses. Crushing the egg masses will not destroy the eggs.