Buck Moths are out in large numbers flitting around town and laying eggs in oak trees. This large moth mates and lays eggs during the fall and is commonly seen flying erratically in landscapes, especially where there are oak trees. The females lay their eggs in a ring fashion around oak tree twigs high in the tree’s canopy. And next spring, March through May, is when homeowners are bothered by the stinging Buck Moth caterpillar.
Localized reports indicated a heavier than normal adult population this fall which likely will result in plenty of stinging caterpillars next spring. Both male and females moths are similar in appearance with one notable difference – the tip of the male’s abdomen is orange. Wings are black with a cream-colored band across the middle of each wing.
There is nothing you can do to kill the moths or to prevent egg laying. Since the eggs are laid on tree branches, treating the soil under trees or wrapping tree trunks does not provide any benefit.
All we can hope for is that predation helps to control the number of egg-laying females and that naturally occurring diseases and parasites reduce the spring population of caterpillars. Trees can be sprayed to kill the young caterpillars just as they emerge in the spring. Timing the spray application is important. Contact a licensed horticultural spray service or arborist. This is especially helpful if you are allergic to the caterpillar’s venom.