RI Forestry Officials Unleash Predator to Combat Leaf-Chomping Pest

Forestry officials recently introduced Cyzenis albicans, an insect that preys on winter moths.

A winter moth, which officials say can devastate tree populations. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture
A winter moth, which officials say can devastate tree populations. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture
State forestry officials are trying to wipe out the winter moth, a leaf-chomping pest that attacks fruit orchards and ornamental trees.

Winter moths originating in Europe gained a foothold in Massachusetts in the late 1990s and have spread outward, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bruce Payton, deputy chief of the state's Forest Environment Division, said the moths were concentrated in places like Tiverton and Bristol a few years ago but can now be found all over Rhode Island, WPRI.com reported.

The moths can quickly defoliate and kill trees like oak, maple, ash, basswood, elm, beech, and fruit. 

Forestry officials recently introduced Cyzenis albicans, an insect that preys on winter moths. It could take "several years" for the predator to reproduce enough to put a dent in the winter moth population.

In the meantime, forestry officials are asking the public to report areas of trees that are heavily deforested, which is a calling card of the winter moth.

Reports can be made to Payton at bruce.payton@dem.ri.gov.

Read: State Officials Issue Winter Moth Alert

Serena Parente Charlebois May 29, 2014 at 08:40 AM
I attempted to use the email listed above and it was not a valid email. Is there a contact phone number or email?
JD May 29, 2014 at 11:12 AM
it'd be great to get a little more information. does keeping the lights out at night, in winter, help to keep them away from your house? i noticed hundreds of moths outside last winter, attracted to our deck light, and now our beech is barely breathing. would putting one of those blue light "bzzzt" bug zappers help, or just attract even more? does putting a sticky ring around the trunk of your tree work? i'd read that some people have had success with that as the caterpillars hatch in the ground and climb up the tree before they start attacking the leaves. introducing another non-native species to an area just sounds like a recipe for disaster. see cane toads in australia. shouldn't we have identified and prepared for this trend years ago? classic american approach...wait until after the disaster and then react, because preparation is "too expensive."
David May 29, 2014 at 12:31 PM
send the GA members to your house. They can suck the life blood out of anything
Bricker June 03, 2014 at 03:47 PM
The moths lay their eggs on the tree in the winter. Larvae start out by eating the bud and then become caterpillars that resemble inch worms. The caterpillar then eats the leaf. There are tree services that can spray your plants. I used Schwartz tree the past two years and they saved my maple trees.


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