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The Vinalhaven Sightings Report is organized and edited by Kirk Gentalen on behalf of Vinalhaven Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Out and about on Vinalhaven, MCHT steward Kirk Gentalen reports on what he and others have seen in their travels. Contributions of stories and photos are welcome, and can be sent to


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Winter Moth Watch - Action Reminder!

Winter Moth Watch – Fall 2012

Action Reminder

Special Winter Moth Edition – October 20th, 2012
Regular VSR to follow
“It’s not even winter yet”


What’s happening? What are they up to? …. When we last left off, the island’s Winter Moth population has been actively pupating (in their cocoons of course) in the dirt under trees.  This pupating has been happening since around June.


Well, the happy-go-lucky lifestyle of “our” winter moths is just about over as they get ready to rise up from the ground as adults.  Soon they will give in to the temptation of hormones and pheromones (ohhhh, the pheromones!) as the realities of adulthood take their hold.


Adult female Winter Moth coming out of cocoons are flightless. They march up tree trunks of deciduous trees and shrubs and wait to attract “ready-to-go” males for mating (and really what male isn’t ready to go). Male Winter Moths are flightfull, and can erupt in sizable numbers when searching for a female to lose themselves with. Adults are coming up to mate, lay eggs, and die – simple as that.


When – “Nov. 1st” –”November 1st” has been the buzz “timing phrase” when talking with experts (Charlene) about when these Winter Moths come up from the ground. These are “wild animals” though and with this year being such an amazing year for insects (is there anyone who hasn’t had a Tussock Moth caterpillar land on them?) we (Vinalhaven people) could see the adults a little early (like next week) or later into December or beyond. Depending on conditions.


Where – so far sign of the winter moth has been reported/observed “in town” - Pond Street, Skoog Park and the Sands area, Skin Hill, Flea Market field, and unconfirmed out to Roberts Harbor. There is still much to learn about the local range of these moths.


What can I do? - #1) – Band ‘em or Wrap those rascals!

If you “live in town “ or suspect that you have winter moths on your property, you are going to want to have some, if not all your deciduous trees “banded”. Banding your tree with extremely sticky stuff (instructions below) catches the females before they make their way up your favorite tree.


Banding helps in many ways – (A) it captures females before they lay eggs on YOUR trees! (b) –it lets you know conclusively if you whether you have winter moths living near that particular tree! (C) and even just getting a few trees banded will teach you a lot about the state of your yard.


You can band your trees yourself – Viking has materials for the tanglefoot applications described in recent Wind publications.  Boone note: To get Tanglefoot off tools use mineral spirits or paint thinner. To remove from hands/skin/hair (if you have hair) use baby oil/veg. oil, followed by washing with soap & warm water.


If you already work with a landscape/garden service on the island, contact them directly to inquire about tree-banding


Or you can in “the pros” –

 Ethan Hall (207) 390 – 0119

or James Rigsby (207) 975 - 6491

You can also contact Marjorie Stratton at the town office - :

to find out more information on banding and the state of the Winter Moth scene on Vinalhaven.


It is recommended that you wait until after October 31st, so trick or treaters aren’t accidently blown into the tanglefoot. Would be fun to see pirates, princesses, ninjas, and super heroes stuck to trees though. Anyway…


What can I do #2) Go for a drive – please report any flights of moths you may observe over the next few months. If you are driving at night, before dawn or at dusk and see moths flying – let someone know! Tell Marjorie where you saw it, get in touch with us here at the VSR, have your neighbor tell someone else.


Few moths are active these days, with less being active the further we go into the fall seasons.