I’m wondering if anyone has seen any signs of winter moth caterpillars yet, and if so, where? They’d be very small, just worming their way into tree buds. I’ve read/heard different theories on how bad they will be this year. Very bad, because there was a “large flight” of moths last November-December. Or maybe not so bad, because of the warm spring accelerating the egg hatching more than the tree budding, so when larvae hatch they find tree buds not as swelled and easy to get into as usual.
Here’s some relevant info from the UMass Extension website:
“After mating, the female deposits loose eggs on bark, in bark crevices, under bark scales, on lichen, or elsewhere. The adult moths then die and the eggs over-winter. Eggs are green at first, but turn red-orange soon thereafter. In March, just prior to hatching, the eggs turn a bright blue and then a very dark blue-black before hatching. Eggs hatch when temperatures average around 55º F. It is believed that egg hatch in Massachusetts occurs when 20–50 Growing Degree Days (base 50) have accumulated, which can be anywhere from late March into early-mid April, depending on the year. This means that egg hatch occurs just at, or right before, bud break of most of the host plants.”
I just went out an looked at some tree trunks and didn’t see eggs of any color, but given the recent weather, they’ve probably already hatched.