When talking about the spongy moth (Lymantria dispar) life cycle, this non-native invasive species is currently in the egg stage. Now is an excellent time to look for egg masses, and consider planning for management options for the 2023 season.
Egg masses can be laid on any surface, and does not neccesarily have to be on trees or other plant materials. When looking on trees, I often will look on the undersides of branches, but they can be found throughout the canopy, all the way down the trunk to the root flair.
Other favorite spots that I have found egg masses on include: under the overhang of a house, shed, garage or barn; on or inside dog houses; on or inside bird houses; behind decorative garden art attached to buildings, fences or trees; on vehicles, trailers and campers; on firewood piles, especially between pieces; or any protective place in the landscape or woods, not far from where the caterpillars were feeding over the summer.
While you can look for the egg masses from now until next spring when eggs will hatch, if you have been experiencing spongy moth feeding by the caterpillars earlier this season, you may want to learn more about the Ohio Department of Agriculture's (ODA) Spongy Moth Suppression Program (see map below). The deadline to apply for this program is September 1, 2022 for consideration for the 2023 treatment project.
If you look at the state of Ohio, there are three management zones or areas illustrated on the map above include: suppression, slow-the-spread, and eradication to management spongy moth.
- The Suppression cost share program (in the infested zone) is in areas where the pest is well established and treatments are performed at the voluntary request of the landowners.
- The Slow-the-Spread program (in the transition zone) focuses on monitoring, detecting, and reducing isolated populations to slow the moth's natural movement across the state.
- The Eradication program (in the uninfested zone) focuses on monitoring and detecting any populations that may have jumped out ahead of the transition zone, due to artificial movement. Treatments are so designed to "eradicate" the isolated populations.
If you are in the suppression area and dealing with spongy moth, you may want to consider learning more about the ODA cost share program for the suppression area. There are minimum qualifications for an area to qualify for the supression program. Inforamtion below was copied directly from the ODA website. If you want to go to the webisite directly click here: https://agri.ohio.gov/divisions/plant-health/spongy-moth-program#:~:text=The%20European%20spongy%20moth%20(formerly,is%20especially%20fond%20of%20oak.
1) The proposed spray block must be located in a county that has been designated quarantine for L. dispar by ODA. Areas of isolated infestations outside the quarantine counties fall under the Slow the Spread Program of the USDA, Forest Service, and are subject to their criteria and funding limitations.
2) The proposed spray block must contain a minimum of 50 contiguous forested acres. Adjacent property owners and housing developments should combine their acreage to meet the 50 acre area requirement and to obtain maximum benefit from the treatment.
3) The proposed spray block must have a concentration of at least 250 egg masses per acre in residential areas. Forested areas must have a minimum of 1000 egg masses per acre. ODA field staff will confirm this. Do not remove current season egg masses until you have been notified that ODA surveys have been completed.
4) The proposed spray block must have a tree canopy that covers no less than 50% of the block.
5) The proposed spray block must consist of at least 35% of tree species that are either susceptible or resistant to the spongy moth. A detailed list is available on our website.
6) The proposed spray block must receive a favorable T & E Assessment from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.
Applicants whose blocks qualify for treatment will be asked to pay a minimum of 50% of the cost of treatment. Payment will need to be made in full prior to treatment. The balance of the funding is thru state and federal funds. State and Federal funding is subject to budget limitations that may cause cuts or cancellation of the program without notice.
Application for egg mass survey - September 1, 2022
Landowner cost share payment - March 1, 2023
If you do find spongy moth egg masses, but the area does not meet the qualifications of the ODA Suppression Program, it is not to easly to begin planning for what to do next year. Options can include:
- physically removing egg masses and disposing of them. Do not scrap and let the fall, as some eggs may be able to hatch from their new found location. This is especially true if egg masses are removed in the spring, just prior to egg hatch.
- purchasing burlap to wrap around tree trunks to MONITOR for caterpillars next season. Although caterpillars found under the burlap can be collected, the bands are not considered a control measure. For additional information about this monitoring technique, check out the factsheet from Michigan State University at: https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/using-bands-to-protect-shade-trees-from-spongy-moth
- planned treatments by a professional or property owner - often this is dictated by the size of the trees that are infested.