May 28 - 1949: The day they said they had killed all the gypsy moths

1913: Brewster man's religion costs him his hair
The United States Department of Agriculture predicted they would have all Gypsy Moths gone by July , 1949.

1913: Story of Brewster Man whose conversion cost him his hair

On this day in 1913, a letter in the New York Times told the sad tale of a Brewster man whose religious enthusiasm was said to be the cause of his complete hair loss:

Sea Captain's religious fervor costs him a luxurious head of hair

In a letter about baldness, M. F. of East Brewster wrote:

"Being but a simple countryman, I feel some hesitation in mixing with the talented New Yorkers who are arguing the subject in The Times and whose views  on this vital question are eagerly read on Cape Cod...

But read Mr. M.F's amusing letter in full below about a freind whose new-found religious fervor cost him his beautiful head of hair:

1949: Gypsy moth plague will end this year with use of DDT

Elimination on Cape Cod is due by July 1, official asserts

On this day in 1949 the Department of Agriculture predicted that the spraying of DDT would wipe out the seasonal scourge of Gypsy Moths which has plagued the Cape and New England since 1889.

5-28-8-gypsy_moths_309The article photocopied on the right is from the New York Times of May 28, 1949.

The last time we checked lo these many decades later, the little buggers were still winning as the photo below on the right shows one chomping away at my oak trees.

The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is a moth in the family Lymantriidae of Eurasian origin.

Originally ranging from Europe to Asia, it was introduced to North America in the late 1860s and has been expanding its range ever since.

The hatching of gypsy moth eggs coincides with the budding of most hardwood trees. Larvae (caterpillars) emerge from egg masses early spring through mid-May.

Gypsy moths are dispersed in two ways. Natural dispersal occurs when newly hatched larvae hanging from host trees on silken threads are carried by the wind for a distance of up to about 1 mile, although most go less than 50 meters.

Eggs can be carried for longer distances. Artificial dispersal occurs when people transport gypsy moth eggs thousands of miles from infested areas on cars and recreational vehicles, firewood, household goods, and other personal possessions. Females are flightless in most varieties, so these are the only means of spreading.

When population numbers are sparse, the movement of the larvae up and down the tree coincides with light intensity. Larvae in the fourth instar feed in the top branches or crown at night. When the sun comes up, larvae crawl down the trunk of the tree to rest during daylight hours. Larvae hide under flaps of bark, in crevices, or under branches - any place that provides protection.

When larvae hide underneath leaf litter, mice, shrews, and Calosoma beetles can prey on them. At dusk, when the sun sets, larvae climb back up to the top branches of the host tree to feed. When population numbers are dense, however, larvae feed continuously day and night until the foliage of the host tree is stripped. Then they crawl in search of new sources of food.

Photos courtesy of Wiki Commons.


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