LONDON, ONT. -- London’s manager of urban forestry says now is the perfect time to launch a defence against the Gypsy moths, which are chewing their way through the Forest City’s tree-lined neigbourhoods.

Oak trees are being especially affected, with tree bark coated in nests from the invasive pest, and leaves chewed down to almost nothing.

Londoner Jerry Rokema, who lives in the Fairmont subdivision off Hamilton Road, says he’s growing concerned by what he sees.

“I’m worried especially about the trees that were a little older and took a lot of damage this year.”

The Gypsy moth population in southern Ontario has been off the charts this year. Experts say it happens about once every 10 years, but London’s urban forestry manager Jill-Anne Spence says she doesn’t believe it’s ever been this bad.

She says now is a good time to launch a defence. All you’ll need are gloves, a scraper, a couple containers, and a spray bottle with water.

“We identified these as Gypsy moth eggs, and there’s about 100 to 1,000 gypsy moth eggs in each egg mass. So what we’re going to do is just wet a few. And all you do is just scrape the egg mass off right into your bucket. Just put them in a bucket with a lid, and I put some soapy water in there and you want to just dump your eggs in there.”

So why this year? Why such a relentless attack worse than previous years?

Spence says there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, last winter wasn’t cold enough for long enough.

Secondly, a virus that normally kills off this invasive pest has not been prevalent.

“It’s called a wilt and it’s naturally occurring and it kills the caterpillars. So it normally takes a couple of years for that to build up in the environment to keep the gypsy moths in check.”

As for Jerry Rokema, he hopes he’s wrong but he’s not holding out hope that he’ll once again have it made in the shade.

“I look at some of the trees in this neighbourhood that were very healthy last year and they’re very thin right now. Will they come back? I’ve been assured by the experts that they will, but I’m not so sure.”