Satin moths eating Carson Range aspens east of Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Satin moths eating Carson Range aspens east of Lake Tahoe

Satin moths are an invasive species that is eating aspens in the Carson Range.

In the mountains east of Lake Tahoe, visitors may notice aspen trees have been defoliated due to an influx of invasive white satin moths.

The white satin moth is a non-native defoliator of aspen, cottonwoods, willows and other deciduous species. Continued defoliation can threaten aspen stands, which provide important habitat for a variety of native species.

The Nevada Tahoe Resource Team — which consists of representatives from several divisions within the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (the Nevada Division of Forestry, the Nevada Division of State Parks, and the Nevada Division of State Lands) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife — recently engaged the University of Nevada, Reno and the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science to perform in-depth research studies and data analysis.

The multidisciplinary experts from the university and TINS are conducting two multi-year studies that will guide future management decisions in support of a thriving natural environment.

The Division of Forestry issued a "Forest Pest Alert" late in the summer of 2017, the Tribune previously reported. At the time officials said the moth was responsible for 40 – 70 percent canopy loss in the North Canyon and Marlette Lake areas at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. Officials added that the increase in defoliation at the time was due to a surge in the moth's population.

"The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is committed to protecting, restoring, and enhancing the health of Nevada's diverse landscapes," Brad Crowell, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said in a press release. "Lake Tahoe is an iconic natural wonder, and together with our partners, we will continue protecting Lake Tahoe from threats to the lake ecosystem for the benefit of all Nevadans and visitors to our great state using cutting-edge science and environmental management practices."

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The moths grow overwinter as larvae and hibernate on trunks or branches in silken coverings masked by other natural debris. They emerge between May and early June and begin to feed on the leaves of aspens, cottonwoods, willows and other deciduous trees. Feeding continues into July as they grow into caterpillars, which then spin cocoons and emerge as moths during late July and August.

If you see white satin moths or areas damaged by these insects, call 775-849-2500, ext. 241. This will provide valuable information for tracking and monitoring purposes. For more informtion: forestry.nv.gov/forestry-resources/forest-health/white-satin-moth-leucoma-salicis/.