A unsolicited, rather interesting comment appeared on my blog several weeks ago, completely unrelated to the post subject on Carex.
"Just thought you might know about Highbanks Metro Park. I was walking there today and noticed that a few acres near the top paths across from the nature center seem to have lost all of their leaves. Have you seen this and do you know what is going on there? All the trees are bald in that section of the trail."
My reply: "Maybe Gypsy Moths?"
Well, surely, an outbreak of the non-native gypsy moths, have defoliated at least ten, if not closer to forty, acres of oak dominated forest southwest of the nature center.
On Saturday, June 27, Megan, Weston and I went to hike at Highbanks, and I wasn't quite ready for what we experienced. Megan perhaps described it best, as "a fairy land". We were walking through dark, shaded forest, slowly coming upon the defoliated tree area. We were greeted with not only bright sun and mostly naked trees, but also thousands of fluttering male gypsy moths. They weren't shy either, and had no problem landing on me as I photographed them.
The ultimately gross pupae cases of the moths. Notice the silk- they were originally imported to Massachusetts for their silk producing abilities, escaped, and the rest is history.
The park now has excellent signage that tells the whole story. Regular runners and hikers at the park seem unfazed by the creepiness that is a gypsy moth infestation. Next year, the park will be using GypCheck to limit damage. GypCheck is actually made from dead gypsy moths, and is currently the most environmentally friendly control method available.