Howard County Maryland Blog

Convention of States in Maryland

Archive for June 4th, 2007

Invasion of the Gypsy Moths

Posted by David Keelan on Monday, June 4, 2007

A couple of weeks ago at the dinner table, as is our custom, we discussed what my daughter had learned at school that day.   She told us that they had talked about caterpillars and went into a lengthy account of what they learned.

Over the next couple of days she and her brother began to notice caterpillars around our yard.  They began to construct houses for them so that they could turn in to butterflies.  I thought it was cute and typical childhood behavior and I was happy that they were so curious.  Soon we noticed a lot of caterpillars and the construction work on new housing for these visitors quickly turned into a chore so the kids lost interest.

Our neighborhood is over 50 years old and contains a lot of large oak tress (great in the summer time but a bear during autumn).  Although I noticed that there were a great deal more caterpillars than usual I wasn’t alarmed.  At the same time I noticed a lot of leaves in my neighbors yards and chalked it up to someone cutting grass and trimming tress.  It wasn’t until I noticed even more leaves laying in the streets that my curiosity began to be aroused.  The final clue was the appearance in our yard an on our deck of brown pellets that look like dry coffee grounds – these are Gypsy Moth droppings.  Then I put it together.

To be certain I talked to one of my neighbors who, I had noticed, had a lot of shredded oak tree leaves in their yard.  I was hoping it was the result of tree trimming and lawn mowing.  They confirmed the worst – GYPSY MOTHS.


I lived in Pennsylvania when that State experienced an epidemic of Gypsy Moths that devastated large tracks of forests and neighborhoods.  Oak trees were being defoiled in great swaths throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  It took two years for Pennsylvania to get the problem under control.

Here is a photo of the damage Gypsy Moths can do to a forest – this photograph looks like it was taken during the winter season.



Maryland has a gypsy moth suppression programin place.  Apparantly it isn’t possible to eradicate this pest.  Given my neighborhood’s proximaty to Patapsco State Forest these pests have a large feeding area in which to grow.

I have contacted my local and state representatives about this problem and am hoping that we can be provided some guidance from the proper government offices.  However, the purpose of this post is to:

  1. Inform readers of this problem (if you are not already aware)
  2. Find out if you are seeing similiar signs of Gypsy Moths
  3. Find suggestions on how to treat the problem

Of course the problem, should you have one, should be reported to the State.  The contact information is as follows:

Chief, Forest Pest Management
Robert H. Tichenor, Jr.
Fax: 410- 841-5835

I look forward to your responses.

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