Those of you who are regular readers of this blog may remember a post from last fall. It was about a gypsy moth caught in the act of laying eggs. I decided not to destroy that egg mass.
Early this week, the eggs hatched. In the photo you can see how small and seemingly helpless they are at this stage of their life. They are less than 1/16th of an inch long. A single rain drop could probably crush a baby caterpillar if it landed right on it. Or, at the very least, wash it from the tree branch.
So how do these small caterpillars survive our spring rain storms?
Looking at the egg mass, I think I figured it out. The mama gypsy moth lays her eggs on the underside of a branch where the baby caterpillars are well protected from direct rainfall. I’m sure many get washed away but many survive to live another day.
This is also the stage at which they are most vulnerable to insecticides. You can imagine it wouldn’t take much spray to kill these pests now compared to later in the season when they have grown into full-sized caterpillars.