(WJBK) - The gypsy moth population in the metro Detroit area is spiking, and could get worse by 2019.
Gypsy moths are an invasive species and aren’t native to North America. We know from science class that the moth is the evolved stage of a caterpillar, and it's the caterpillar stage that's most dangerous and, in this case, devastating.
The blue-and-red spotted creature eats the leaves on many types of trees, causing them to become stressed and eventually die. You can see what the little caterpillar creatures look like in the report from Derek Kevra in the video player above.
"It's a very devastating insect, especially to southeastern Michigan. We have a lot of hard woods, a lot of oaks; maples; elms; cottonwoods; willowtrees. It can be very devastating to an area," explains Josh Leo from The Davey Tree Expect Company. He adds that we're on the upwards swing of the high population. Experts call this the worst infestation in decades.
So why is the population booming? We can thank the Entomophaga maimaiga fungus for that (or, rather, the lackthereof).
The fungus helps keep the moth population at bay, but when it's really dry that fungus doesn't really grow. We know it's been dry here for the past few weeks -- but the past few summers, overall, have been dry, too. The summers of 2016 and 2017 saw below average rainfall. And we're seeing that trend for 2018 right now, too, causing many experts to believe we'll continue to see the population spike.
So, what can we do to protect our trees?
Leo recommends getting an arborist to your house as soon as you see the insect on your property. They can recommend a plan of action.
And, of course, pray for rain.