CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WROC) — Gypsy moths have always been around in our region, but every 10-15 years there’s a major spike in population. They can feed on trees, and kill your foliage.
For one Canandaigua family however, the trees aren’t the only thing theses soon-to-be moths are causing destruction to — it’s quality of life.
Jennifer Sennet and Richard Brinkman say the infestation’s peak happened in early June. While the moth population has now decreased, the family believes they are on the backend.
“Horrible, horrible,” Sennet said. “We’ve created this place where we live and now we can’t enjoy it”.
The early infestation stage didn’t start until the spring season, when Sennet and Brinkman noticed their property began filling up with caterpillars. Throughout the next two months, the same caterpillars turned into a largely-populated colony.
“It started back in April, they were really tiny the caterpillars,” Brinkman said. “I didn’t anticipate having millions of them.”
Sennet and Brinkman’s daughters are unable to use the pool or hang out on the property’s deck. This is due to hairs left behind by moths, which Maya Brinkman says causes her to break out in hives.
“I’m allergic to it so it’s hard to sit out,” Maya said. “I think its in their hairs, it gets on the pillows that’s what I’m allergic to.”
According to Rob Cole from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), moth hairs can cause skin irritation. He says these huge outbreaks happen every 10 to 15 years — lasting two-three years.
“The treatment window is rapidly closing if not closed already for this year,” Cole said. “At this point, its too late to exterminate them entirely.”
There are some available options to contain moth infestations.
One option is wrapping a sticky band around your tree trunk so the caterpillars are restrained. According to the DEC another option is aerial spraying of insecticide, which needs to be set up as early as January. The method used by this Canandaigua family however, is vacuuming.
“If you’re as crazy as I am, go out and suck them up with a vacuum cleaner,” Brinkman said.
In just a few weeks — we can expect all of these caterpillars to turn into moths.
More information on how to manage a gyspy moth infestation can be found here.