gypsy moth destruction?
i have a seasonal home on the border of ogemaw and oscoda county and last year and now again this year my oak trees are being attacked by caterpillars. in the early morning, when its still and quiet, you can actually here them chewing up the leaves. someone told me they were gypsy moth caterpillars, and that if my trees get chewed up a couple of years in a row, they might not survive. is there anything i can do to slow or stop the destruction of my oaks. i've already lost a dozen large oaks to what neighbors say is oak wilt. any help would be greatly appreciated. thank-you robert keller
Oscoda County Michigan
There are several species of caterpillars that can defoliate forest trees. If you have a photo (This article shows one for reference: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/gypsy-moth-caterpillars-are-out-and-about), I could confirm whether it is gypsy moth or something else. Some counties spray for gypsy moth based on areas with heavy defoliation. I would recommend you reach out to your local MSU extension office natural resources educator (Julie Crick - firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out about the process for gypsy moth spraying in Oscoda County. Even if your tree is mostly defoliated, it can still produce a second set of leaves in July. Keeping a stressed tree watered will help it recover in a future season.
Regarding oak wilt, the best practices are not to prune trees between mid April - mid July and to not use firewood from damaged trees. Unfortunately, preventative management is difficult.