Has anyone though of using preying mantids to counter gypsy moths while they're still caterpillars? From what I can find about them, they relatively cheap, and only eat bugs. Granted it would be nice to have the spraying done as well, but these seemed like they might be able to help.
The only natural enemy that really controls the gypsy moth caterpillars is the fungus and the virus ( can never remember the long scientific names). The fungus occurs from rain at exactly the right time. There was a little fungus this year from the few small rains in early June but not nearly enough to really help. If we had gotten the rain a month ago that we got this past week we would probably be in good shape. The virus usually occurs when there are very high populations competing for food and we don't have that either. From what I understand, any other birds or insects that might be natural predators cannot begin to do enough damage control to make a difference. Because the gypsy moth problem we have this year is from blow in, I am seeing different stages all at the same time. This includes the last instar caterpillars( large at around 3-4 inches-picture down at gate 3 mail shed), the pupae (brown hard caccoons that are often found under eaves, rocks, in bird houses, etc) and the actual moths (male is small brown with very rapid movement and female is white, doesn't fly and can be found on tree trunks).
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