Several Gypsy Moth caterpillars make their way up a maple tree.

Town seeking residents’ assistance to help reduce the growth of the gypsy moth

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The Town of St. Marys is seeking residents’ assistance to help reduce the proliferation of the gypsy moth within the Town’s urban forest.

Gypsy Moths are a non-native invasive species and are a concern because they feed on the leaves of broadleaf trees, and on some conifers (evergreens). One single gypsy moth caterpillar can eat an average of one square metre of leaves during the larval stage.

“We have received several reports of gypsy moth caterpillars completely defoliating some local trees and shrubs.” Says Jed Kelly, Director of Public Works for Town of St. Marys. “Despite a trees’ ability to produce new foliage throughout the summer, this can cause significant loss in growth and make trees more vulnerable to other pests, poor growing conditions and drought.”

In their current larva (caterpillar) stage, an infestation can be hard to spot as they camouflage into tree bark and much of the feeding occurs during the night. The caterpillars of the gypsy moth are dark and hairy. They have five blue dot pairs and six red dot pairs on their back. They are likely around 2.5 to 3 cm in length during this time of year.

The following burlap cloth method is recommended to help trap and reduce the population:

  1. Wrap a piece of burlap cloth around the stem/trunk of your tree(s).
  2. Tie a rope around the center of the burlap.
  3. Drape the burlap cloth over the rope so there is an overhang. The caterpillars will crawl underneath to seek shelter during the day.
  4. Every afternoon, lift the overhanging burlap and collect any hiding caterpillars.
  5. Put them into a bucket of soapy water for a few days to destroy them, then dispose of the contents. They can also be handpicked and crushed, however the long hairs of the caterpillar can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, so be sure to wear gloves.

For more information about gypsy moths and how to help control their population, visit

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Erica Martin-Coddington | Public Works and Planning Assistant
519-284-2340, ext. 221 |