Mark Boltz Robinson enjoys growing apples and berries each year. He sends his family in Germany pies, apple crisps, jams, and other goodies made from the fruits. He had hoped that the harvest would be used to renew relationships that were damaged over the past year after the coronavirus epidemic.

However, this is impossible because gypsy moth caterpillars decimated his trees and bushes. Boltz-Robinson claims that all he has is bare branches and 90 pounds of apples. Daily Reuters spoke to Boltz-Robinson that he is unable to make or pass on to family and friends the usual things he does. It’s absolutely devastating.

Boltz-Robinson, the Monkton tree warden and chair of the town’s Forest Committee is well-versed in arboreal nuisances. Boltz-Robinson stated that this year’s gypsy mosquito invasion was the worst in Vermont for 30 years. He said, “I grew-up in Vermont, and I can recall some terrible years in the 1980s. But I’ve never seen anything like this.”

European gypsy moths can be an invasive species. According to the US Department of Agriculture, they were introduced to America in the late 19th-century by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot (a French scientist who wanted to breed a new silk moth species in Massachusetts).

According to Margaret Skinner (entomologist, researcher, University of Vermont Extension Program), the US has experienced gypsy moth caterpillar outbreaks approximately every six to eighteen years.

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Larvae in a multitude

According to USDA, European gypsy moth larvae, also known as caterpillars, eat hundreds of trees’ leaves, including oak and aspen. The caterpillars hatch from eggs in spring, and then feed on the foliage until June or July when they become an adult gypsy molt. They are only alive for a few days, just enough to mate with other adults and lay eggs on trees. These will then mature throughout the winter.

The spread of Gypsy moths has been beyond New England, the first place they were introduced to the US. The USDA states that the larval moths have reached the Midwest, Northeast, and parts of the South.