My first sign of spring is when I see a blade of two from one of my backyard annuals sprouting up out of the ground. That makes me happy. With the weather (finally) changing for the better as we get closer to spring, I expect to see that happen anytime now.

And along with that, out comes the insects as well. That's something I'm not so happy about depending on the type of insect. Fleas and Ticks are my enemies the most. And as I stated in a recent article, this year is predicted to be an above-average tick season. I will be on the lookout for ticks after being outdoors this year, not only on myself but my dogs as well.

And since we're on the subject of insects, are you familiar with the Lymantria dispar dispar? Well, that official name probably isn't well known, but you should be pretty familiar with what it is.

The Lymantria dispar dispar is a caterpillar that we have commonly called the gypsy moth. Well, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, this caterpillar has a new common name - Spongy Moth.

Spongy Moth
New York State DEC
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The Entomological Society of America (ESA) as part of their Better Common Names Project made the name change as part of their Better Common Names Project due to its use of a derogatory term for the Romani people.

Better name, but still a nuisance insect. According to the ESA, "The Spongy Moth is an invasive pest of North American forests that can defoliate hundreds of tree and shrub species." They are known to eat leaves in the spring when they are new and tender.

The NYS DEC reports that the Spongy Moth Caterpillar has caused noticeable leaf damage across the state, and in the late summer through winter if you see their egg masses, you're encouraged to destroy them by scraping them off into hot, soapy water. Another option is to place sticky/barrier bands around the trunk of your trees in late April when the Spongy Moth Caterpillars hatch and crawl.

Visit the NYS DEC and ESA websites for more information about the Spongy Moth Caterpillar.

via NYS DECESA, Better Common Names Project

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