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North Vancouver moth outbreak no reason to bug out

Last Updated Sep 1, 2020 at 12:10 am PDT

(Courtesy Government of B.C., Ministry of Forests)

The Western Hemlock Looper isn't an invasive species, won't eat your sweaters

The outbreak doesn't require intervention, the species isn't invasive and these outbreaks typically last three years

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A spike in the population of a native moth species is bugging plenty of North Vancouver residents.

The good news is the Western Hemlock Looper has no interest in eating your sweaters.

The species feeds on foliage with a fondness for Hemlock and Douglas Fir trees, and during serious outbreaks these trees can be entirely stripped of their leaves.

The outbreak of these moths is now in its second year, according to Richard Hamelin, Professor in Forest Pathology at UBC’s Faculty of Forestry.

“About every 10 – 20 years there’s an outbreak,” he explains.

“The conditions are right and the populations will build up and then if you get the population buildup, you start noticing them,” he says.

However, the current situation doesn’t require intervention since the species isn’t invasive and these outbreaks typically last about three years.

“It’s probably just going to come down on its own,” he says.

“What happens is when these populations explode then there’s natural predators and parasites and diseases that creep into the populations and start killing the moths.”

The moths also typically die off as the weather gets cold, and a harsh winter could avoid a spike down the line.

But, Hamelin says, global climate change can cause the conditions to get even more conducive to moths, and the population spike could be even bigger next year.

“We’ll just have to wait and see.”