Next year's gypsy moth population could be worse

A URI research associate says next year's gypsy moth population could be even worse than this year's. (WJAR)

Rhode Island could see more gypsy moths next year than this year.

"It's sure looking like it could be worse," said Heather Faubert, a research associate at the University of Rhode Island. "It sure could be just as bad."

Faubert said gypsy moths should be gone by the end of July. But the moths are leaving behind millions of eggs that will hatch next year. Each egg mass can hatch up to 1,000 caterpillars.

"These egg masses will make it through the winter and then next spring, early next May, these eggs will hatch and we'll have a lot of caterpillars again," said Faubert, as moths flew around her in South Kingstown.

The gypsy moths aren't just prevalent in South Kingstown. Viewers across Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been sharing their pictures with NBC 10 News.

Sarah St. Hilaire, of Seekonk, shared a picture of gypsy moths out in full force outside of her apartment complex.

"It looked as if my apartment building was painted in black and it's actually a gray exterior," St. Hilaire said.

If the moths return in big numbers next year, for a third consecutive year, it won't just be a nuisance. It could be deadly for trees.

"Three years of defoliation will kill a tree but it depends on how droughty it is, what kind of tree it is," Faubert said.

Trees that have been devoured by gypsy moth caterpillars this spring and summer should begin growing leaves again in three to four weeks.

Faubert said that people can scrape off the egg masses. She adds that people should also consider hiring a landscaper since some of the egg masses are higher up in the trees and so that the eggs can be treated.

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