It’s that time of year again. No, we’re not talking about the holidays. We’re talking about the dreaded winter moth.
If you’re like most people, you’re probably looking for environmentally friendly ways to get rid of the winter moth (Operophtera brumata). Well, you’re in luck. In this article, we’ll share some safe home remedies and natural products to deal with them.
There are a few different types of plants that winter moth caterpillars are drawn to, but the most common ones are oak, maple, and apple .
Other plants that have been identified as attracting winter moths include white elm, birch, ash, blueberry, and cherry trees.
The winter moth is found in Europe and other areas . Female moths lay their eggs on the branches of trees in late autumn.
The eggs hatch the following spring, and the caterpillars start to feed on the leaves. In May or June, they pupate and emerge from the soil as adult moths in late November.
The adult male moths are brown to tan in color with a wingspan of around 30 mm. The females are gray and are basically flightless because they have reduced wings.
After hatching, the caterpillars climb the tree trunk and begin feeding on tender new leaves. The caterpillars are very tiny (about the size of an eyelash) and are pale green with a light white vertical stripe running along each side of the body.
How to Get Rid of Winter Moth Naturally
1. Bacillus thuringiensis
Bacillus thuringiensis produces toxins that are deadly to moths but harmless to people and animals. You can find it in liquid or powder form at your local garden center or online.
Spinosad is effective against a number of caterpillars, including those of the winter moth.
It works by causing the caterpillar to stop eating and eventually die. Spinosad is available in liquid concentrates, and you can find it at most garden centers or on the internet.
To use this natural insecticide, mix it according to the manufacturer’s directions and apply it to the affected area. It’s important to follow the directions on the label, as it can harm bees.
3. Horticultural Oil
Horticultural oil is a pest control product that suffocates the eggs and larvae of moths and other pests.
To use it, you’ll need to mix it with water according to the directions on the label. Then, you’ll want to spray it on the trees and shrubs that are infested with the pests.
Make sure to spray in tree crevices and under tree bark, as that’s where the eggs are typically found. You’ll also want to be sure to spray the trunk and branches of the tree, as caterpillars can climb up and cause damage.
Horticultural oil is a safe and effective moth infestation treatment, and it’s something you can use yourself without having to call in a professional.
4. Natural Predators
There are a few different natural predators that go after these pests.
One of the most common is parasitic wasps. Some species of wasps will lay their eggs inside the moth caterpillar. Once the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae start eating the winter moth larvae from the inside out.
Another option is to introduce or encourage predators into your garden, like birds and ground beetles. These guys will help keep the snow moth population under control without you having to lift a finger.
5. Tree Banding
One of the most effective ways to prevent the caterpillars from causing damage is tree banding. This involves wrapping a sticky band around the trunk of the tree, which prevents the hatching caterpillars from climbing up.
You can buy tree bands, or you can make your own by coating strips of cloth or paper with a sticky substance. However, this method won’t work if the moths are already high up in the tree.
This method also works great to control fall and spring cankerworms.
6. Soapy Water
Believe it or not, one of the cheapest ways to eliminate these pests is with soapy water. That’s right—the same stuff you use to wash your dishes can also be used to control winter moths.
Here’s what you need to do: make some soapy water insecticide, put it into small dishes, and then place them outside near a light source. These make excellent moth traps.
Wherever the moths see the light, they will flock to it. They will then fall into the soapy water and suffocate.
7. Pick Off Caterpillars
You can also pick off winter moth caterpillars by hand. This is a bit of a tedious process, but it’s very effective.
You’ll need to be vigilant about checking your plants for caterpillars and removing them as soon as you see them. Make sure you get all of them. You can also help control the population by removing egg masses from trees.
8. Monterey Take Down Spray
This product is a contact pyrethrin-based insecticide. It is very effective against eggs, larvae, and adults.
Moreover, Monterey Take Down is affordable and easy to use, and it delivers results quickly.
These are a few organic and natural ways to deal with the winter moth, but it’s important to be patient and persistent. You may need to try a few different methods before you find one that works for you.
If you have a severe infestation, you may need to call in a professional. But in most cases, you can get rid of these pests with a little bit of effort and the right approach.