Ermine mole: description, methods of control and prevention

Spring always pleases with its warm and sunny weather after long cold weather, but only gardeners and gardeners call this time special. The awakening of nature is marked for them by the beginning of the new planting season, and in the fall to get a good harvest, we have to try from the very beginning. Today there are a huge number of insects that have a negative impact on vegetable and fruit crops.

A big problem in achieving high-quality fruiting of trees and shrubs are pests, each of which requires its own approach. Especially among the others, the ermine mole stands out. To get rid of it and save the crop, the gardener should be familiar with the distinguishing features of the insect.

Description of the species

ermine moleThe definition of the "ermine mole" among biologists includes more than 600 species of lepidopteran moths.Almost all of them have a very small size and are common in the tropics, but some of the species have chosen the middle lane that is familiar to the people of Russia. In such a climate, the ermine moth feeds mainly on apple trees and bird cherries, but it can also settle on other trees.

Small butterflies with a wingspan of 6-28 mm are capable of causing irreparable harm to adult plants, as a result of which trees die. Insects in the composition of large colonies are able to destroy entire gardens and forest belts. The moth feeds mainly on young green leaves, but to maintain vital activity, it can eat the bark or roots. Caterpillars of insects settle on the crown of a tree, gradually weaving it with cobwebs and creating collective colonies. The web in them is so thick that it is impossible to see what happens in the depths. In such nests, the caterpillars pupate and become full-fledged butterflies, continuers of the genus. Sometimes colonies can count hundreds of insects, the harm from which is able to destroy a tree in one season.

Common species

In a midland climate, only 10 out of 600 species of this pest are common. Most often they settle on bird cherry or apple trees.

The Apple ermine mole is distributed not only across the territory of Russian Siberia.

You can meet these insects in:

  • Sweden;
  • Great Britain;
  • Canada;
  • USA;
  • Finland;
  • Japan and Korea.

Due to the seasonality of pest attacks, the mole is often called the “May worm”.

The ermine bird-cherry mole can be found on a wider territory. Insects can harm forest plantations within the entire territory of the Caucasus and most of Russia, right up to China itself.

The peculiarity of the pests is that after a few years of diligent efforts to destroy the gardens, they disappear by themselves. Slightly damaged trees are able to quickly recover from such raids, but some may not survive. To reduce crop losses and the trees themselves, gardeners are often interested in how to deal with ermine moths? In fact, everything is not so simple, and the majority of chemicals on insects simply do not work, but regular processing of plants still accelerates the process of the disappearance of pests.

Insect Outbreaks

ermine moth on an apple tree

The peculiarity of the life activity of the moth is that every few years their populations wander and strike various cities and regions of the country.The first outbreaks of insect activity were observed in the eighties, after which the ermine mole was noted only in the mid-nineties. The European part of the country is most susceptible to pests in the Moscow and Leningrad regions. The end of the nineties was marked by the active reproduction of the moth population in the Krasnodar Territory, from which many trees suffered. After that, the pests sharply intensified in Khanty-Mansiysk, and in 2006 attacked the gardens of Sweden. The last extensive epidemic was noted in Irkutsk 5 years ago.

Observing the reproduction and movement of the moth, you can see that its population is growing with each season and will soon hit the entire plantation and gardens. The active control of the ermine moth does not lead to pronounced results, and the insects return again with a new force, producing immunity to the chemicals used. Only if necessary, the natural migration of all pests sharply leave the habitat. The mole usually lives in one place for no more than five years.

Appearance of insects

The ermine moth, which must be tightened up annually, is not very attractive.The color of the butterflies is dull, but pretty cute. In the territory of our country are common insects with white front wings and gray rear. The white wings of the butterflies have several rows of black dots, and the backs of all the wings are painted gray. Pests are nocturnal in this phase of development.

Moth caterpillars also have rows of points along the body, located on the sides. The main color is yellow-gray, and the head, legs and speckles of caterpillars are black.


Like most insects, the ermine moth lives only one year on the apple and bird cherry trees. In order to continue the genus, butterflies in front of the cold lay eggs on the trunks of their dwelling trees and cover the future offspring with protective mucus. Within a few weeks, the larvae appear under such a shield of eggs, which live throughout the winter, feeding on the bark of the tree and the remnants of their shell. Only with the onset of heat and the appearance of leaves on the tree can you notice an increase in the activity of the caterpillars. First, they eat the inner parts of the foliage, leaving their outer shells intact, and then move to the surface and begin to entangle the crowns of the tree with thick cobwebs.

Such spider colonies can be seen at the end of May. They appear mainly on the tops of plants, gradually expanding throughout the tree. When the cobweb completely covers most of the mother plant, the caterpillars pupate in small groups in the forks of the branches. A new generation of butterflies is born at the end of June.

Possible damage

ermine bird cherry mole

Even a seemingly useless fight with an ermine moth on an apple tree is necessary, since in the absence of resistance to the pest, an overgrown colony can lead to the death of entire gardens. The life cycle of insects is reduced to regularly eating the leaves of trees, first from the inside, and then from the outside. In any case, photosynthesis in case of damage to the green mass becomes impossible, and the plants are not able to develop, grow, blossom and bear fruit. To recover from such an invasion, cultures need more than one year.

In the cities, after an active growth of the ermine moth population, they are also beginning an active struggle because of the ugliness of the greenery at this time. All of them are densely entangled with cobwebs and look on the streets of cities very depressing.

Options fight

In spite of the fact that it is necessary to fight this pest, there is simply no effective means for this. You can save the plants only through timely preventive treatment or timely spraying, even before the caterpillars begin to braid crowns.

You can select for this purpose any chemical insecticide preparations, the main thing is to periodically change them so as not to cause addiction of insects to the active component. The manual collection of spider nests is also considered effective, of course, if there are not too many of them. After cleaning the tree, all the caterpillars, along with the web, must be burned immediately. Pheromone traps for female moths are also considered effective.


fight with ermine mothMost often, chemical mixtures are used to combat moths. In private gardens, Actellic will be suitable for this, but it should be handled with care, because the drug is very toxic.

If there are only a few spider nests on the tree, the result will be treatment with drugs:

  • Danadim;
  • Lepidocide;
  • "Bitoxibacillin".

ermine mole control methods

In other cases, it is best to spray the plants:

  • Bordeaux mixture;
  • arsenic solution;
  • green parisian.

The first spraying of infected trees should be carried out strictly before flowering or after it. Most often this time in early May. During flowering and immediately after processing, it is only allowed to manually collect caterpillars and cocoons. Repeated spraying should be carried out in the period of laying eggs with butterflies. This usually happens in July.

Folk methods

how to deal with ermine mothIn addition to actively spreading chemicals for pest control, many gardeners use means that are more benign to plants, but no less effective. Among these recipes mixtures for spraying is very often found composition based on red pepper. To prepare it in 1 bucket of water, you need to pour a pack of ground red pepper, a pack of shag, a whole bottle of potassium permanganate and a little peel from onions or garlic. Infusion should be left for 3 days, after which you can use. Many decide to spray their trees with the usual “Coca-Cola”, saying that the effect of it is not worse.

You can fight with moths, and not just harassment. To do this, the tree trunk is wrapped with adhesive tape sticky side out and changes as it is filled with insects.By the way, any insects can get into such a sticky trap.


apple ermine moleInsect pest infestations are part of the natural process, so it’s completely impossible to get rid of them. In order to reduce crop losses and minimize harm to the plants themselves, it is necessary to start eliminating pests from the site in a timely manner. This should be done until all individuals disappear, as the mole can attack any culture in search of food.

The above ways of combating can be used when invading other insects. Most importantly, you need to choose the most effective means to get rid of pests, and then you will have a good harvest.

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