Winter Moths invade Maine

3:01 PM, Jun 18, 2012   |    comments
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HARPSWELL, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- An invasive species known as Winter Moth has invaded the town of Harpswell. The moths feed on plants and trees, especially hard woods. State entomologists believe that they were carried into Maine by summer residents who brought domestic plants with them.

"Please leave your hostas at home," said Charlene Donahue of the Maine Forest Service. She discovered the infestation in Harpswell and believes the insects are confined to a four hundred acre area.

The insect gets its name because the male moths appear in the late fall and early winter months.  Female moths, which don't have wings, lay eggs on the trunks and branches of trees.  The eggs hatch into inchworms that feed on the buds and entire leaves of trees.

Property owners can spray for the moths in early May or wrap their trees in sticky bands. These bands will prevent the female caterpillars from scaling the trees.

The state Department of Conservation reports that a parasitic fly was released in Nova Scotia and helps keep the Winter Moth population under control there.  Researchers at the University of Massachusetts are rearing and releasing the same fly in Massachusetts and hope that it will soon be at high enough numbers to reduce the Winter Moth populations to manageable levels.

Donahue said, "We have found this invasive insect relatively quickly due to an alert landowner," Donahue said. "Hopefully by using the flies as bio-control agents, we will be able to get the problem under control quickly and it will not spread further." 


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