By Sue Tiffin
In June 2018, someone participating in the Queen Elizabeth II Bioblitz took a photo of a European gypsy moth caterpillar on a tree in the Minden area, resulting in the only positive identification in Haliburton County of the invasive species to be posted on the EDDMapS Ontario Map run by the Invading Species Awareness Program.
The Invasive Species Centre, however, knows there have likely been many more sightings of the pest in the area that haven’t been reported by citizens yet. The centre’s Early Detection and Rapid Response Network European Gypsy Moth Egg Mass Scraping Contest hopes to change that, enticing community members to report sightings of the egg masses on their properties and remove them in exchange for an entry into a contest for Yeti merchandise and maple coffee.
“The European gypsy moth is native to Europe and is currently established in northeastern United States and eastern Canada,” reads a press release from the Invasive Species Centre, based in Sault Ste. Marie. “This insect is a significant threat to Ontario trees, and has gained widespread attention over the past year for the heavy defoliation seen across the province. The caterpillars feed on crown foliage of a wide range of hardwood and some softwood trees, which makes it a defoliating forest pest of concern.”
This is the time of year, after June and prior to spring the following year, according to the Invasive Species Centre, to monitor and manage trees for European gypsy moth to help limit further infestation next year.
“We know that Eastern Ontario trees were heavily impacted this year by the pest, and there’s evidence of moderate to severe defoliation from European gypsy moth in areas surrounding Kawartha Lakes and an increase in defoliation as you move east towards areas like Perth and Smiths Falls,” said Lauren Bell, education and community outreach co-ordinator at the Invasive Species Centre.
“We’re calling on people across Ontario to help reduce the impact of this destructive pest, right in their own backyards,” reads the press release.
The egg masses are tan-coloured and can be found on tree trunks, bark, or other hard surfaces, according to the release. They are about four centimetres long and contain 100 to 1,000 eggs.
Once eggs are spotted, they should be removed with a scraper like a butter knife or paint scraper to carefully remove the masses off tree trunks, branches and outdoor equipment. After removal, the masses should be disposed of in a bucket of dish soap and water mixture, left for 48 hours in the water before disposal. Community members should wear gloves and protective glasses while scraping eggs off of trees. To enter the contest, a photo should be taken of the eggs scraped, which can be submitted with an entry form to be automatically entered into a draw to win a prize. The more eggs scraped, the more entries into the draw.
“We use an application called the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System to track reports of invasive species in Canada, you can see based on the European Gypsy Moth page the current mapped distribution in Ontario, including reports in the Minden/Kawartha Lakes area,” said Bell. “These maps are not a summary of all infestations by any means, but are reports sent in from community members, and therefore the more people we have reporting their sightings of this invasive species, the better understanding we have at the current distribution.”
An early bird draw took place Oct. 30, and a final draw takes place on Nov. 27 at 4 p.m.
For further information visit invasivespeciescentre.ca or https://www.invasivespeciescentre.ca/take-action/edrr-network/european-gypsy-moth-egg-scraping-contest/.