Pennsylvania Takes Action Against Spongy Moth Infestation

While the attention of nature enthusiasts is captured by the upcoming emergence of cicada broods, concerns are growing over another pest in Pennsylvania: the spongy moth.

The spongy moth, known for its destabilizing effects and ecological harm, poses a threat to hundreds of shrubs, fruit trees, and nut trees across the state. Efforts are underway to combat this invasive species in Pennsylvania state parks.

Female spongy moths lay up to 1,000 eggs in masses on trees and stones during June and July, with the eggs hatching from mid-April to early May the following spring.

In response to the threat posed by spongy moth infestations, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has initiated spraying activities in 18 state parks, as well as the Grey Towers National Historic Site in Pike Valley. These efforts aim to eliminate spongy moth eggs ready to hatch and prevent further infestations.

Among the state parks receiving treatment are Bald Eagle in Centre County, Big Spring in Perry County, and Whipple Dam in Huntingdon County.

Rosa Yoo, Forest Health Manager, emphasized the cyclical nature of spongy moth outbreaks, occurring every five to ten years. However, recent surveys indicate a decline in spongy moth populations, underscoring the effectiveness of suppression activities.

Spongy moth egg masses are described as flat and mud-like, with a hairy, spongy texture and cream or brown coloration. The moth caterpillars have distinctive markings, including blue and red spots on a hairy body.

Various methods are recommended for controlling spongy moth infestations on private property, including the use of moth traps, pest barriers, and garden insect sprays. Additionally, manual removal of egg masses and the placement of burlap around tree trunks are effective tactics for reducing spongy moth populations.

As Pennsylvania takes proactive measures to address the spongy moth threat, residents are encouraged to remain vigilant and take steps to protect their property from infestations.

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