East Providence News

11/19/2011 - INSECT ALERT - European Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata)


This insect pest has been introduced to North America from Europe. In the west, the infestations range from Vancouver to Oregon. Populations have been moderately controlled in eastern Canada as well, including Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The first infestations in the northeast US have been discovered in Massachusetts from just south of Boston to central Cape Cod. The moth is now found in this area. Adult moths emerge from the soil to breed in late November. The nearly wingless females climb the trees in search of sites to lay their eggs. When the average temperature, late winter/spring, reaches 55 degrees the eggs hatch and the young larvae which resemble inchworms, tunnel into and feed upon the buds of trees. As the larvae mature, they attack expanding leaf clusters and fruitlets, defoliating trees and destroying the marketability of fruit. Larvae feed until mid-June, then migrate into the soil to pupate, where they remain until emerging as adult moths. Repeated attacks of this pest cause tree decline and mortality.