City monitoring gypsy moth infestation

Gypsy Moth (Photo by Alastair Rae on Flickr)

City officials say they’re aware of a local gypsy moth infestation in Sarnia and are urging residents to “ride it out” for the next few weeks.

Parks and Recreation Director Rob Harwood said the caterpillars are often a nuisance during the last two weeks of June.

“They tend to be quite the pests for a couple of weeks every year, and we certainly are experiencing a lot of that in the north end of the city where mostly oak trees are prevalent,” said Harwood.

He said the city doesn’t have a formal plan to combat them this year.

“Some communities are spending money,” said¬†Harwood. “Hamilton is spending $2.5 million on a program. It’s probably more heavily affected than we are. The gypsy moth populations tend to be cyclical and they peak every eight to 12 years, so I think it’s a temporary thing that we’re dealing with right now.”

He said there are lots at Canatara Park.

“I walked through there last week and had a few drop on me,” said¬†Harwood. “They’re relatively harmless. They will defoliate a tree, but a tree does have the opportunity to regrow its leaves two to three weeks after defoliation, so we’re not expecting any real permanent damage.”

Harwood said city staff will continue to monitor tree health and will make recommendations for control if necessary.