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A ruination of Gypsy Moths

July 05, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Last year and the year before, the woods were so thick with Gypsy Moth caterpillars that you could hear a steady rain of frass—the polite name for larval poop—as the youngsters reduced the normally thick shade to a species of untimely April. Then, at about this very time, a Gypsy Moth plague struck, and the twin horsemen of the Lymantra dispar apocalypse, a fungus and a virus, swept through the runaway population and reduced the living caterpillars to corpses. By their position in death, the larvae gave away the identity of their killers: hanging head down, fungus; hanging in a Vee, virus. The carnage was remarkable, and, while few people could see its continuation, the plague returned this spring, as wet and cold conditions were perfect for ensuring that fungal spores would do their deadly handiwork on the caterpillars before they had started to grow very much. As a result, Gypsy Moths were a rarity this year, and what few remained never made it to the pupal stage. The fungus was lying in wait.


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