Saturday, January 28, 2012

Boston’s Winter Moth May Cause Untold Devastation

Boston’s Winter Moth May Cause Untold Devastation

Boston has witnessed the destructive behavior of winter moths every spring in eastern Massachusetts with absolutely no idea how to stop it. Winter moth caterpillars devour holes through newly blossomed foliage of shrubs, apple trees, maples, oaks and blueberry bushes. Because they have no natural predators in New England their population growth continues to increase year after year. It’s been a burden on the local forests and has even affected commercial and residential areas as well.

Local entomologists estimated trillions of winter moth larvae consumed more than 100,000 acres of trees in Massachusetts in 2005, with the trail of destruction augmenting about 4 or 5 miles each year. Thousands of trees were left bare from Boston to Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Hampshire. Tree services in the Boston area were forced to shorn dozens of branches and remove decaying shrubs. Though tree spraying has become a viable option, entomologists suggest a more organic solution. 

Cyzenis Albicans to the Rescue

Native to Europe, the moth has species-specific predators, called the Cyzenis Albican, that control the population, but none of them exist in the Boston. Without a balanced ecosystem the moths could ravage the area until the resource is depleted. This isn’t good news for the beloved trees of Massachusetts metropolis, the outlying cities Boston or for the native insects and animals that thrive on these trees. But since 2005 these greedy flies have been released into the vicinity to combat the spread of these destructive moths.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and the US Department of Agriculture has ordered the containment of the winter moth in six areas of eastern Massachusetts including Falmouth, Yarmouth, Seekonk, Hingham, Wellesley, and Wenham. With a controlled release of moths entering the affected areas, the flies are a welcome inhabitant. They are considered safe for the survival of the natural ecosystem because they target the winter moth and no other species.

How exactly does this tiny fly eat a winter moth? It’s all in the eggs.

The Cyzenis albicans, a parasitic fly, lays its eggs near the food source of caterpillars. When the caterpillar consumes the larvae the eggs continues to grow and hatch in its stomach. Essentially the fly devours the caterpillar from the inside out, both feeding simultaneously. It’s considered a win-win for the fly. That’s one tenacious bug!

Restorative Tree Care

For those trees that have fallen victim to the wide-spreading winter moth, it may be too late to salvage the loss of foliage. With literally millions of moths burrowing into a single tree, tree removal may be essential to the safety of people and structures nearby. However, some trees are luckier than others and may only require tree trimming. Professional restorative care such as tree trimming, tree spraying, or tree removal can mitigate the destruction of these mischievous moths.
If you need professional tree services in the Boston area, contact Premiere Tree Services.  The certified tree experts offer residential and commercial tree care at affordable prices.

71 Commercial St. Ste. 98
Boston, MA, 02109
Phone: (617) 517-3719

Photo Courtesy: Markuso

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for explaining this. We've been trying to figure out how to go about doing tree removal in Boston. We have quite a few trees that need it.