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Gypsy moths on the rise in some parts of the state

Department of Natural Resources

Gypsy moths are an invasive species that first arrived in Michigan with a major outbreak in the 1980s. Now some parts of the state are seeing a resurgence.

Counties like Ogemaw, Alcona, and Clare are seeing outbreaks of gypsy moth populations, leading to widespread defoliation in those areas.

Nia Becker is the conservation district forester for Clare and Gladwin county’s conservation districts, she said her area is one where the outbreak is particularly noticeable.

“Actually the past couple years we’ve had really high gypsy moth populations. The gypsy moths, they actually have population cycles and right now we’re in the middle of an outbreak. They can last a couple years typically, but it kind of depends on the weather too,” said Becker.

This seems to be the case in a few other parts of the state as well: intense but localized outbreaks.

James Wieferich is with the state DNR, he said tracking the insect is tougher than in previous years, so it could be tough to exactly pinpoint the outbreaks.

“This year we’re not gonna be able to get out and do aerial survey because of covid situation, so we’re kinda relying on our foresters and public outreach to understand where the population is, so the data is a little bit less informed, it’s more spotty,” said Wieferich.

He said these small outbreaks aren't uncommon and happen most years, and even though they don't have quite as wide as a data set it is likely that this year is no different. A more widespread outbreak, like in the 80's Wieferich said is unlikely, due to a fungi that was adapted into the ecosystem to combat it.

For the sake of transparency we note that the Department of Natural Resources is a financial supporter of WCMU.

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