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Could an end be near for gypsy moth populations?

Gypsy moth caterpillars appear to be dying from a virus that has spread, showing a potential end to the infestation this year.

The virus, nucleopolyhedrosis, or NVP, is usually the reason for a collapse in the population when it occurs.

Matt Gallo, terrestrial invasive species outreach coordinator with Finger Lakes PRISM, explained that the virus only spreads from close contact, so the only way for it to spread is when populations are this large.

He is hopeful that this could bring the population down in size, and according to a report from the Michigan State University, the caterpillars liquefy and disintegrate rapidly, letting off a foul odor if handled.

Laura Bailey, natural resources educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County and Northwest regional director of the Master Forest Owner Program, says that in her area she has seen little mortality due to NVP.

Gallo is hopeful that it’s moving through the population, but unsure of whether it will end the issue for next year.

Another way people have been handling the issue is by paying to have their properties sprayed with the insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki, or Btk, which is only dangerous to the caterpillars.