Your Stories: Gypsy moth caterpillars overtake trees and yards

Your Stories

PARISH, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Wendy Matt has some uninvited guests outside her home in Parish. Considering the damage to the leaves on her tree, she remarked: “They’re all chewed up.”

The culprit? Gypsy moth caterpillars. Matt called the Your Stories line because they’ve overtaken her maple tree and other plants.

“You can’t park under the trees. You can’t sit in the shade under the trees. You’re going to be covered in droppings, that’s how bad it is. You can stand under that tree and you can literally hear them chewing”

Wendy Matt

Matt has tried fly tape and that is working some. She isn’t alone. Many of our viewers are wondering where they came from.

“It’s of European origin,” said SUNY ESF Extension Entomologist Kim Adams, “But it was brought over here for silk production, intentionally, early in the 1900s and it escaped of course, but it’s well established here in the east.”

Another viewer told us if they touch his wife, she gets a rash on her skin.

“These are hairy caterpillars and for some people they can cause irritation,” Adams explained, “They are not stinging caterpillars. They don’t have any poison or toxin in these hairs.”

Adams said this won’t last. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about them at this stage. “Over the winter, you can look for egg masses that kind of brown, tan, felty thing on trees – look for those and destroy them,” Adams explained.

There’s one main concern Matt has. “I don’t want the to kill my trees,” Matt said.

Adams said healthy trees will be fine and will put on new foliage in the future. In the meantime, we will just have to let nature take its course.

Have a story idea? Give the Your Stories team a call anytime at (315) 446-9900 or email

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