Friends of Upton State Forest and the Upton Open Space Committee are co-sponsoring a free program on gypsy moths and winter moths by Ken Gooch, Director of Forest Health for the Department of Conservation and Recreation. It will take place on Thursday, April 14, at 7:00 PM in Upton’s VFW Hall at 15 Milford St. This is in response to several inquiries the Friends received last summer from people concerned about the moths defoliating trees around their yards. The public is welcome, and we encourage property owners to take advantage of this free program to learn what they can do to protect their trees.
The last time this area had a gypsy moth infestation was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, which lasted several years, but this time the winter moth population is building at the same time. In 1869, gypsy moths were introduced into Medford, Mass in a failed attempt to establish a silkworm industry, while the winter moth came to Nova Scotia from Europe sometime before 1950. Both pests have spread throughout the northeastern US and southeastern Canada. They are similar in the destruction they cause as the caterpillar stage feeds on tree leaves and shrubs. Defoliation weakens trees and they become vulnerable to disease. The added stress of drought can make it difficult for the tree to recover.
You may have noticed the pests last year, but the buff colored egg masses on local trees indicate that the gypsy moth population is building once again. Preferred trees of the pests include maple, elm, and, especially oak, but they will eat apple, alder, birch, poplar, and willow. If there is a large population, they will even consume evergreens.
Friends of Upton State Forest work to “preserve, enhance, and protect the natural and historic resources of Upton State Forest.” They welcome new members. You can learn more about the group at www.friendsofuptonstateforest.org. Donations are welcome, and the group will have their logo apparel available at the program. To learn more about the Upton Open Space Committee, go to http://www.uptonma/open-space-committee. New members are invited to UOSC meetings on the fourth Monday of each month.
Questions about the program, or the Friends, can be directed to 508-529-6610, or firstname.lastname@example.org.