The former gypsy moth is now being called spongy moth. The Entomological Society of America decided to officially change the name in March since gypsy is considered a disparaging slur against the Romani people. The spongy moth is an invasive species. Therefore, The Entomological Society of America found it inappropriate for their name to include negative cultural connections.
The name, spongy moth, was given to describe the masses of eggs these moths produce. However, the name isn’t suggestive of your household kitchen sponges. Interestingly, the eggs look and feel like sea sponges. The color is a buff yellow or light brown color, teardrop-shaped, and between one and two inches long. Once the eggs have hatched, these masses remain, and they feel spongy to the touch.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection predict Connecticut to have a dense population of spongy moths this year, especially in Litchfield County. A survey showed a sizeable amount of Spongy Moth eggs. Being a top tree service company in the state, we can also attest to seeing the population of these pests grow significantly.
Unfortunately, this invasive species defoliates trees across Connecticut, including oak, maple, and birch. However, the destruction does not end there. Defoliation weakens a tree and causes the tree to become more prone to fungus, disease, and other pests.
Entomophaga Maimaiga, a natural fungus found in soil, is fatal to spongy moth caterpillars. Therefore, wet springs keep the population of this invasive pest under control. Since we’re having an abnormally dry spring this year, it’s essential to monitor your trees for these pests. Call Eric’s Tree Service if you notice them or their egg masses.