Thought you’d like these pix of winter moth larvae (Operophtera brumata)
Sun, May 17, 2009 at 3:58 PM
Here in eastern Massachusetts we are having a horrible infestation of winter moths for the 3rd or 4th year. Each year they get worse, and the damage to the trees around here is greater and greater. I know that you think that there’s no such thing as a bad bug, but I’m having a hard time finding good in these guys. My car is covered in their feces and the driveway has a thick slippery coating of caterpillar poop.
Anyway, we had a rain last night and quite a few got knocked out of the trees and took refuge under our cars. Not sure why they all huddled together, perhaps for warmth. It was not a pretty site when I backed the car out of the driveway…
We needed to do a bit of research on the Winter Moth. BugGuide hasn’t much information on the species, and indicates of the genus: “small geometers with banded brown forewings and plain whitish hindwings. Range southern Canada and northern United States (extends further south in the Appalachians and Rockies) ” BugGuide has no images of the caterpillars. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Introduced Insects Page indicates: “Adult moths emerge in late November and can be active into January under the right weather conditions.” The University of Massachusetts Green Info page has a pdf on the winter_moth that indicates the species was introduced from Europe. In its own natural habitat, the Winter Moth Caterpillars probably have natural predators that feed upon them. It is also possible that in Europe, there are periodic outbreaks that result in a necessary food source for other animals. Thanks for sending your awesome images of this outbreak of an introduced invasive exotic species.