Entomology

Is something munching on your garden vegetables?


Want to know if that bug crawling around your house is cause for concern?


Or are you just interested in learning more about nature?


Plymouth County Extension offers free services on identification and education on insects. Workshops are run by the county's entomologist educator Blake Dinius.


Check below for upcoming workshops or contact Blake Dinius for more information.

Quick Links

Upcoming Workshops

Interested in learning more about insects?


Check our calendar for an upcoming event near you! 







Report a Pest

Do you think you've found a pest on our "Most Wanted" list?


  • Have it identified by Blake Dinius
  • Or click below to report it directly to Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

 Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by the Plymouth County Commisioners. 

Contact Us

Do you need an insect identified?


Are you looking for advice on insects?


Or maybe you would like to schedule a workshop?


Services are FREE.


Contact Blake Dinius for more information.

Common Topics

Pollinators

Are you interested in learning more about native pollinators in our area?


Click here to learn more about our friends of flowers and fruits.

Gypsy Moth

The gypsy moth is one of the most destructive pests in our area.


Click here for information on them and tips on how to control them.

Winter Moth

Winter moths wreaking havoc on your property?


Click here for more information and tips on how to control them.

Invasive Insects

Wanted: Dead or Alive


These insects are known to cause problems wherever they're found.


If you find any:

  • If the identification of the insect is unknown, take a photograph and email it to Blake Dinius for identification
  • Once the insect is identified, report the finding to Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources

Click here for information on Plymouth county's "Most Wanted."

Pollinators

About

Not all pollinators are bees! Likewise, not all bees are pollinators. Pollinators are a very diverse group of animals. The only major connection between all of them is the ability to pollinate, or bring pollen from the male portion of a flower to the female portion.


Types of pollinators include:

Bees, wasps, flies, butterflies and moths, beetles, hummingbirds, and some mammals.

Identification

Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes. Presence of an insect or animal around flowers does not necessarily mean it's a pollinator! One of the surest ways to determine if an animal is a pollinator is to watch it and see if it's actually carrying pollen.

Decline and Conservation

Pollinator decline is a complex issue. There are several likely candidates for the decline including spread of disease, use of pesticides, and habitat loss.


Conservation efforts involve mitigating or reducing the impact that these suspected causes have.

Gypsy Moth

About

The European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) is an invasive species brought to America from Europe in the late 1860's. Since its arrival, it has caused widespread defoliation of major plants in our area. The bad news is that it's likely here to stay. The best we can do is hope to control it and mitigate its spread.

Life Cycle

Gypsy moths have one generation per year. Timing of each stage can vary depending on climate.


Eggs: Eggs are laid in late July/early August. The eggs will last throughout the winter.

Caution: Egg masses contain hairs which cause irritation.


Caterpillars: The following spring, the caterpillars will emerge from eggs in early May. This is the only stage which feeds.


Pupae: Caterpillars will form cocoons around the mid/late June


Adults: Adults will emerge in July. They will mate in July/August. Afterwards, they will lay eggs, and die. Adults do not feed.

Identification

Eggs: Egg are laid in fuzzy orange/tan patches on the sides of bark. Eggs can also be found on structures and rocks around the area.

Caution: Egg masses contain hairs which cause irritation.


Caterpillars: After hatching the caterpillars are about 5 mm (or slightly less than a 1/5 inch).

The caterpillars will have 5 pairs of blue spots on their back, followed by 6 pairs of red spots. This feature is unique.


Pupae: Pupae can be challenging to distinguish from the cocoons of other species.


Adults: Males are small and brown and will fly. Females are white with brown markings. They are larger, but they do not fly.

Sprays

Sprays represent the most effective way for humans to deal with gypsy moths. Handling of these pesticides is should be left to people with formal training. Always follow the label requirements.


Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (sometimes called “B.T.K.”) is recommended treating young caterpillars. This spray is safe, but decreases in effectiveness as the caterpillars age.


Therefore, the timing of this spray is critical. The spray must coincide for when the caterpillars are young and out feeding and the leaves of trees.


Start looking for caterpillars in late April or early May. They will be slightly less than 1/5 inch at this point.


Your spray should happen a little after the emergence of the caterpillars (mid-May). 


If you wait until June, it will likely be too late.

Naturally Occurring Control

Entomophaga maimaiga is a Japanese fungus that occurs in our area and infects gypsy moth.  When active, this fungus is very good at controlling populations of gypsy moth. However, the activity of the fungus is dependent upon the amount of rain an area receives. During "drier" springs, the fungus may not be active enough to have a noticeable effect.


Nuclear polyhedrosis virus predominantly infects moths and butterflies. While the presence of this virus alone might not control gypsy moths, it can certain help to reduce the numbers.


Some animals will feed on gypsy moth as well. These include birds, mammals, centipedes, and other insects. However, the impact these animals have is not likely occur in high enough frequency to control gypsy moth alone.

Myths

Beware of any other methods of controlling gypsy moths:


Wrapping your tree with plastic or burlap has been proven to be ineffective.


Individually killing caterpillars or moths isn’t going to make much of a difference in the population.


Winter Moth

About

The winter moth (Operophtera brumata) is an invasive species introduced into North America from Europe. It was originally introduced into Canada around 1930 and has spread into America.


Since its arrival on our continent, the winter moth has caused widespread defoliation.


Like the gypsy moth control efforts are focused on managing populations and mitigating the spread.

Identification

Identification is challenging. Diagnostic features can be difficult to discern without experience. Winter moth can even hybridize with the native bruce spanworm (Operophtera bruceata).

Life Cycle

Winter moths have one generation per year. Timing of each stage can vary depending on climate.


Eggs: Eggs can be laid anytime from late November to January.


Caterpillars: The following spring around late March/early April.


Pupae: Caterpillars will form cocoons during late May/early June.


Adults: Adults will emerge around Thanksgiving, but can be found all the way into January. They will mate, lay eggs and die. Adults do not feed.

Sprays

Sprays represent the most effective way for humans to deal with winter moths. Handling of these pesticides should be left to people with formal training. Always follow the label requirements. 


Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (sometimes called “B.T.K.”) is recommended for treating young caterpillars.


The timing of this spray is critical. The spray must coincide for when the caterpillars are young and out feeding and the leaves of trees.


Start looking for caterpillars in late March/early April.


Your spray should happen a little after the emergence of the caterpillars (early/mid April).

 

If you wait until May, it will likely be too late.

Natural Controls

Unlike gypsy moth, naturally occurring control methods are still under investigation or are not sufficient at controlling populations numbers alone.


Cyzenis albicans is a fly that parasitizes winter moths. Its effectiveness is currently being investigated as a biological control.


Similar to gypsy moth, nuclear polyhedrosis virus and predation by animals, such as birds, mammals, centipedes, and other insects are not likely occur in high enough frequency to control the pest alone.

Myths

Beware of any other methods of controlling gypsy moths:


Wrapping your tree with plastic or burlap has been proven to be ineffective.


Individually killing caterpillars or moths isn’t going to make much of a difference in the population.

Most Wanted

Asian Longhorned Beetle

 Anoplophora glabripennis


  • 0.75-1.25 inches long
  • Antennae are as long, if not longer, than the body.
  • The body is glossy.
  • The back is black with many white spots.
  • Antennae are banded with white.


Note: There are several beetles that look similar, but do not possess all of these features. Only the Asian longhorned beetle will have all of these features.

Emerald Ash Borer

Agrilus planipennis


  • 0.0625 - 0.50 inches long
  • Metallic and shiney
  • Usually, bright emerald overall
  • Shaped like an elongated oval.
  • There are no large spots or other markings


Note: These beetles are distinct in our area. There are very few that have the green/metallic coloration and are also this small.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Halyomorpha halys


  • 0.50-0.67 inches long
  • Brown with a mottled back
  • Rounded shoulders (no spikes)
  • Antennae are banded with white
  • The sides of the body have bands. The bands will appear as white with two strips of dark, then white again.
  • The "nose" or front of the face is rounded as well with no points.
  • Legs are thin and uniform with no "leaf" shaped bulges.


Note: There are several insects that look like this insect. Feel free to email a photo to Blake Dinius, for confirmation.

Spotted Lantern Fly

Lycorma delicatula


  • 1.0 inches long
  • Typically, grey, but sometimes the may appear pink or reddish.
  • The underwings are bright red, with black at the tips and a white stripe.
  • The back will have many black spots covering it towards the head.
  • The patterning will change from spots to black stripes towards the "butt" of the insect


Note: This insect is very distinctive.

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Plymouth County Extension Service

44 Obery St, Plymouth, MA 02360, US

(774) 404-7020

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