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Pandora moths are back in full force in Central Oregon

They show up every decade; not much you can do

Pandora moths

Pandora moths are back on their cyclical visit to the High Desert. They are usually out in full force every 10 years.

The first outbreak of Pandora moths occurred back in 1890.

Today, moths are found in Central Oregon. Their larvae feed on the pine trees.

Landsystems Nursery owner Gary English explained Monday the larvae like to “munch on the needles, so like a Ponderosa pine needle is about six inches long," English said. "And so you’ll see all of those needles go down to where they are like an inch.”

And while the larvae of a Pandora moth may defoliate your trees, experts say they won’t kill it.

"The reality of it is they don’t kill the tree," English said, "They just feed on that vegetation, and then they fall off onto the ground and then they pupate. Then when they pupate and reach the adult stage then you get the moth again.”

It take two years for the moths to complete their life cycle, which is why the moth is more prevalent in odd-numbered years, and the larvae are more common in even-numbered years. 

With the increased number of adult moths this summer, that means there will be more larvae the next year.

The Bend Parks and Recreation District is gearing up for next summer by spacing out trees, according to Jeff Amaral, the district's natural resources manager.

“So with increased tree spacing, you are going to have healthier trees," Amaral said. "They are going to be able to better withstand species, disease and drought.”

Other than tree spacing, there is not much that can be done to combat the moths.

Experts say to embrace the the moths for what they are and just allow them to run their course.

“There really is nothing you can do," English said. "I wouldn’t use insecticides. You are going to kill more beneficial than the deleterious guys. Just live with it and enjoy it. Watch that cycle go and treat it with awe.”


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