The Attack of the Gypsy Moth Caterpillars!

We moved into our house here in the suburbs of Rochester, New York way back in 2004. Wow! It certainly doesn’t seem that long ago. Our backyard has a lot of oak trees as many of you well know from my whiny annual “leaf campaign” posts each Fall. In addition to our own oaks, many of our adjoining neighbors’ oaks lean over our property. To say we’re inundated with leaves in the Fall would be a tremendous understatement. When we first looked at the property, we saw the trees as a very appealing asset. My opinion changed 180o immediately after we moved in and the leaves began to fall.

Most of the homes in our tract also have oak trees and we noticed many of the trees had dark rings painted around their trunks. After we moved in, we asked a neighbor what was up with the rings and they said it was a chemical paint that discouraged gypsy moth caterpillars (photo above) from climbing the trunks and proceeding to the branches to eat the leaves. Bands of plastic are also used (photo below). Years passed and we never had a problem with the caterpillars until last year. This year is even worse. When I look up at the leaves on the trees, I see they’ve been ravaged by the insects. Our backyard and even the street that winds through our neighborhood are littered with small scraps of leaves leftover from the insatious caterpillar eating machines. I’ve determined gypsy moth caterpillars aren’t too bright because many scale the house, thinking it’s a tree, only to get stranded on the roof eaves and die.

In regards to gypsy moth caterpillar infestation, Wikipedia states, “If a tree loses more than 50% of its leaves for more than two years in a row, it will certainly be weakened and may not survive.” I’m all for less leaves to clean up in the Fall, but dead trees cost a lot of $$$ to remove. We already have two oaks that have died and need to come down.

This gypsy moth caterpillar infestation brings to mind the locust plague mentioned in Exodus 10:1-18. Of course, our insect problem is nothing compared to what the defiant Egyptians had to deal with. I also think about how calamities come into our lives that we have no control over. For me, there was being laid-off by Kodak after working there for 43 years, the frustratingly-long job search and the daunting challenges at my new company, my wife’s ongoing disability problems, the pandemic, helping my sister with advancing dementia to relocate to a Florida seniors’ facility, and now we’re all headed into a recession with a rise in prices and interest rates and steep drops in our 401Ks, partially caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

We like to think we have a great deal of control over our lives with our digital planners and calendars, but it’s a mirage. Calamities come into our lives often very suddenly and unexpectedly in this fallen world. There’s also the inevitable decline of our health and energy as we age. How grateful I am for my Rock, my strong Foundation, Jesus Christ. Many believers have endured far greater challenges than my troubles, where it was all they could do just to “hang on” and trust in God (when it is actually He Who hangs on to us – John 10:29).

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. – Psalm 18:1-3

Above: Some neighbors wrap plastic bands around their oak trees in an effort to prevent Gypsy Moth caterpillars from climbing the trunks.

22 thoughts on “The Attack of the Gypsy Moth Caterpillars!

  1. Do y’all have laternflies? They are HORRIBLE!!! Last year and this year I have spent money to have two of our trees sprayed. Japanese beetles are out early this year and I am having some one come to access that situation. You are so right that calamity is here and it’s going to get worse. Store up treasure in heaven because as we are seeing the tangible things in this life are truly fading away and being taken away by a whole host of factors. All the best contending against the destructive invaders!!!!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Nope, we don’t have lantern flies. I hope you’re able to contain them and the Japanese beetles. These gypsy moth caterpillars could wreak havoc. It costs about $2K to cut down and remove one tree.
      I used to delight in sharing my memories of the calamitous 1960s with Pastor Jimmy, but this era has quickly become equally calamitous and getting worse.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. “Calamities come into our lives often very suddenly and unexpectedly in this fallen world. There’s also the inevitable decline of our health and energy as we age. How grateful I am for my Rock, my strong Foundation, Jesus Christ.” – – Amen!!!!

    My husband, who was treated for testicular cancer last year, has some worrying symptoms and, long story short, he will soon have a biopsy taken of an artery in his head. As for me, I am scheduled for more heart tests at the cardiologist, day after tomorrow. Physical therapy for my badly degenerated right shoulder will have to wait. Meanwhile, we are under a Bear Warning here in eastern New Mexico. Due to record breaking wildfires and drought, bears are coming into town looking for food. So, yeah. Things are going wrong everywhere we turn. But the joy of the Lord is my strength!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! I occasionally get ideas for posts when I’m working outside in the yard. Must be the quietness and lack of stress that calms my spirit and I can focus on the Lord. I got another idea today.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Lanternflies? Gypsy moths? Add NYC waterbugs and I can only ask, why oh why were they on that ark?
    “Calamities come into our lives often very suddenly and unexpectedly in this fallen world.” Very true, Tom.
    Today I was battling weary thoughts over two distressing family issues, both of which I’m told, “There’s nothing you can do about it”. So I prayed in my prayer journal.
    Then I picked up where I left off in my thru-the-Bible reading,
    “Power and might are in Your hand, no one can withstand You” then, “For we have no power to face this vast army…we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You”.
    Thank you for sharing about the moth army and other challenges. May the Lord captivate our hearts and lead us through in faith.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Lisa Beth. What a comfort that we can go to the Lord with all of our cares and challenges. Life gets rocky sometimes. I could not imagine being an unbeliever and not having a Shepherd to turn to. I pray for your family issues.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post, Tom, but not so great that you’ve lost oak trees. We have some nice oaks on my property as well and I lost two large ones in two consecutive years about 5 years ago. I have no idea what got them but it wasn’t gypsy moths. One was in a low area where water would gather and that year we had a lot of rain so I thought it might be that.
    I can relate to your caterpillars. You may remember the picture on my blog of the Eastern Tent Caterpillars that we had in masse this year. They can definitely be as numerous as the gypsy moths but they aren’t near as damaging even though they look like they would be after they take out most of the leaves on a tree.
    Like you, I don’t know how I would make it through without God’s help.
    Thanks for sharing…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Chris! Yup, as much as I dislike gathering up the leaves in the Fall, it’s kind of sad to see two of the oaks without leaves and the bark falling off.

      RE: I don’t know how I would make it through without God’s help.
      It’s been so long since I was an unbeliever that I forgot what that mindset is like. I couldn’t imagine getting up every morning without God.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Wow this goes many directions! Never had gyspy catepillars before; but life is full of things not working as we expected. They do look like a nightmare and not fun to have falling on someonefrom the trees and leaves!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. RE: Wow this goes many directions!

      Lol. From some of the other comments, I think I confused a few readers.
      RE: life is full of things not working as we expected.

      Yup, that was the main theme of the post, but I took a detour through the caterpillar onslaught to get there.

      I’m way behind on WordPress because of an all-day project. Man, I’m bushed. Hope you’re having a good Wednesday.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh all day project? With the trees and yard work? MY Wednesday was good we did a ministry to a couple with my wife; always great family to family ministry

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Glad you had a good Wednesday! I rented a power washer and deep-cleaned the backyard patio concrete surface. From start to finish took five hours, but made a huge difference. First time I ever used a power washer.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That includes the prepping, travel, wrestling the washer in and out of my small trunk, securing it, etc. The grime on the cement was infused, so I had to blast it at very close range very slowly.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I filled in some of the patio cracks with sand this afternoon, but quit at 3. Couch duty till lights out.
        How’s your day starting out?

        Liked by 1 person

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