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How to Get Rid of Poplar Moth?

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With the onset of summer, many different nasty insects appear, one of which is the poplar moth (also known as the poplar aphid or poplar aphid). It is a nuisance in both urban and rural areas. In this article we will look at the main methods of controlling poplar moths in apartments and in open areas.

What is poplar moth?

The poplar moth, also known as the poplar moth or poplar aphid, belongs to the family Gracillariidae and is most often found in European Russia. Its active breeding season coincides with the flowering of poplars, when they lay eggs inside the poplar fluff that flies everywhere at this time.

These insects are nocturnal and are attracted to light sources in apartments. Many poplar moths settle on ceilings and furniture, forcing people to carefully close their windows to avoid intrusion. Although they are not dangerous to humans unless they have allergies, they can seriously stain furniture and other surfaces, leaving difficult-to-remove stains and ruining the appearance of the room. In addition, poplar moths easily fly into lamps and household appliances, causing additional inconvenience.

Despite the fact that these insects do not pose a threat to humans, they become a real disaster for green spaces, especially trees. Poplar moth larvae feed on the foliage of poplar, maple, aspen, linden and fruit trees, causing them significant harm. They also damage flowers, the foliage of which, when attacked by this pest, stops photosynthesizing and dies. This seriously reduces plant growth and yield.

Poplar moth. External features

The poplar moth is distinguished by its patterned, velvety gray wings. According to scientists, this type of insect is a real butterfly, not a moth. Adults of this species have narrow wings with a span of up to 1 cm. The front wings are variegated, strewn with small specks, while the hind wings are gray and shiny, surrounded by a small fringe. The body of this insect has an ash-brown tint.

Pied moths actively reproduce, which allows them to maintain and increase their population even in the most extreme conditions. The life cycle of poplar moth butterflies is only 72 hours. During this time, they lay 2 to 3 portions of eggs in poplar fluff, which is then carried by the wind. The poplar moth feeds only in the caterpillar stage; adult individuals do not feed at all.

After hatching, the caterpillars feed mainly on poplar foliage. By the end of July-August they turn into adult insects. In autumn, leaves containing caterpillars fall to the ground, where the caterpillars spend the winter, although they often die. Sometimes they also overwinter in houses, hollows and cracks in trees. In the spring, immediately after the snow melts, insects become active again.

Reproduction and life cycle of the moth

The life cycle of the poplar moth can be divided into several stages:

  1. Laying eggs: Adult moths lay about 30-32 eggs on tree leaves.
  2. Hatching of caterpillars: After a week or 10 days, small caterpillars hatch from the eggs. They chew through the leaf and penetrate inside it, covering the hole with film. Caterpillars actively consume leaves, accumulating energy and necessary substances. At this stage, the poplar moth goes through 4 molts, changing its appearance 5 times. The only food for caterpillars is fiber.
  3. Pupation: After one to one and a half weeks, the caterpillars begin pupation. The length of the pupa is 4 and a half centimeters.
  4. Emergence of adult insects: A week later, an adult insect emerges from the pupa. From mid-summer to early autumn, butterflies fly out en masse, starting a new breeding cycle.

Where does the poplar moth live?

These insects are most common on poplars in Central Asia and the western regions of our country.

Among the varieties of poplar that serve as food for this moth are the following:

  • Lombardy poplar;
  • Fragrant perennial poplar;
  • Balsam poplar;
  • Laurel-leaved poplar.

Typically, moths prefer old trees. However, Canadian and black poplar are not on her list of preferences. The poplar moth rarely lives in wild forest areas, preferring to inhabit places closer to residential areas. If fruit trees grow next to a moth-infected poplar, the infection can spread to them.

In addition, the caterpillars of this pest pose a serious danger to plants grown in greenhouses and nurseries. Their consumption of leaves results in stunted growth and reduced yield. Due to its large numbers, the moth is capable of destroying foliage in a matter of seconds. With a massive invasion of these moths, trees can completely lose their foliage.

What do poplar moths eat?

As mentioned earlier, cottonwood moths primarily feed on the foliage of poplar trees. However, she also does not refuse other types of food. For example, in the fall, when the leaves have already fallen, the caterpillars of this pest switch to a “diet” of linden bark.

In addition to poplars, they can eat many other plants, including:

  • Fruit trees (apple trees, pears);
  • Fruit bushes;
  • Aspen;
  • Maple;
  • Various flowers (roses, chrysanthemums, violets, rhododendron);
  • Vegetables (cucumbers, lettuce);
  • And others.

Strictly speaking, on each of the above-mentioned plants, traces of poplar moths have their own characteristics. For example, brown leaves are visible on pear leaves, and intersecting paths are visible on apple leaves. Damaged leaves and flowers of roses have small through holes and patterned marks, and on violets and cucumbers you can see whitish dots and narrow passages. However, the poplar moth gnaws the rhododendron completely.

It is worth noting that only larvae can feed. The adult moth stops eating. Her main task is to lay as many eggs as possible within 72 hours, this is her lifespan.

How to deal with poplar moth?

To effectively combat poplar moths, it is necessary to carry out measures before the poplars begin to bloom. Although it is impossible to completely eradicate all insects, their populations can be significantly reduced during the current season. The most radical method of control is cutting down poplars and other trees where the moth lives. However, the use of this method is highly undesirable due to obvious environmental consequences. It is usually used only when pest populations are extremely high.

Insecticidal chemicals are also used to kill poplar moths. They are applied to foliage and tree trunks, as well as to the soil around them. However, these chemicals must be safe for humans, animals and birds. Caution should be taken during handling to avoid health problems. Residents of apartment buildings are advised to join forces and send a joint appeal to a sanitation company such as Marafet. The company’s specialists will carry out treatment with safe and effective means in the area adjacent to the house.

Many insecticides designed to control poplar moths contain pesticides and wax. It is effective against caterpillars, but has no effect on pupae and adult butterflies.

A biological method can also be used to kill poplar moths. Plants that attract parasitic insects are planted next to poplars. These parasites can reduce moth numbers by more than half without harming the trees themselves. This method is often used in the improvement of urban areas.

A substance called pyrethrum, produced from chamomile, is also suitable for controlling poplar moths. It has no strong odor and is completely harmless to people. This drug is effective not only against moths, but also against fleas, cockroaches and other pests, paralyzing their nervous system. However, multiple treatments are required to achieve noticeable results. When using insecticides, it is recommended to periodically change the drugs used so that insects do not have time to adapt to them.

Methods of prevention

Regular preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of poplar moth infestation of trees. First of all, it is necessary to remove fallen leaves. When spring arrives, trees should be treated with insecticides. During periods of particularly high moth activity, when there are not enough trees for it, it begins to penetrate human homes. Insects settle on surfaces and furniture in apartments, get inside lamps and other electrical appliances, and also lay eggs in food, making it inedible.

How can you protect yourself from the invasion of poplar moths in city apartments? There are several methods, here are some of them:

  1. Install special nets with small cells on the windows and treat them with insecticides that are harmless to people and pets.
  2. Install electric fumigators in the apartment and on the balcony to repel moths.
  3. Look for and destroy moth eggs in the folds of curtains and window sills, using a vacuum cleaner to reach hard-to-reach places.
  4. Carry out wet cleaning in the apartment, especially carefully removing dust from corners where moth eggs may be located.
  5. Wipe the walls, floor and ceiling with a solution that repels insects.
  6. Install sticky traps in various places in the apartment.

Residents of rural areas also use many folk methods to protect trees from poplar moths, here are some of them:

  1. Hose trees or bushes with water from a hose under high pressure to repel moths and prevent their reproduction.
  2. Place mechanical traps with bait or glue.
  3. Encourage an increase in the number of dung beetles in the garden, as they eat poplar moth eggs and the butterflies themselves.
  4. Regularly remove infected leaves from trees.
  5. Cover low plants, such as cucumbers or flowers, with a special non-woven fabric to prevent moths from breeding.
  6. Use spring plant oil.

To achieve the best results, it is recommended to combine several methods at the same time. However, remember that they all only provide protection for one season. When using chemicals, it is better to combine various drugs, including pyrethrum and paraffin. Take all precautions, wear personal protective equipment such as goggles, a mask and gloves, and apply multiple treatments to achieve noticeable results.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the threats associated with cottonwood moth?

The poplar moth does not pose a direct threat to human health, but its harm remains significant. This insect eats the foliage of plants, causing serious damage to them. In addition, it can enter people's homes, spoil food, and leave difficult-to-clean areas on various surfaces. All this makes the poplar moth a very dangerous pest.

How can you get rid of poplar moth?

There are many methods for controlling poplar moths, including chemicals, traps, electric fumigators, the use of predatory insects, destruction of infested leaves and others. Detailed information about control methods can be found in the main article. To more effectively kill poplar moths, it is often recommended to combine several methods at the same time.

What is the lifespan of poplar moth?

The life cycle of the poplar moth includes several stages. The insect hatches from the egg in about 7-10 days, then spends a week or a week and a half in the caterpillar stage before pupating. The poplar moth remains in the pupal state for about 7 more days. She eventually turns into a butterfly, which only lives for 72-73 hours.

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