BRADFORD -- The eggs of the European gypsy moth can be seen in trees around south and central Ontario.

Over the next few weeks, expert conservation authorities believe that regions will experience outbreak levels of the invasive insect.

"This particular infestation is a little bit unprecedented. The last time we had this was the early Nineteen nineties," said Graeme Davis, a forester with the County of Simcoe.

According to Davis, the insect population will spike every 7-10 years. This tends to be followed by a low number the following year, which may be caused by a virus.

According to Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, this year's outbreak was predicated based on observations and monitoring in 2020 and through the winter of 2021.

"It's the leaves that they feast on," said Cory Byron, the conservation forestry program manager for LSRCA.

Byron says the caterpillar stage of the Gypsy moth is what does the most damage. It eats tree leaves which leads to unhealthy and or dead trees.

The LSRCA says the critter can consume as much as one square foot of leaves per day.

"Most cases the trees with withstand the defoliation," said Davis.

According to the Lake Simcoe conservation authority, if you are worried that your tree's health is at risk, there are a few ways to prevent damage.

If you see the light beige egg masses laid on a tree's trunk or limbs, the conservation authority says to remove them from the tree and place the eggs in soapy water.

If you miss the hatching period in April and May, LSRCA says to wrap a burlap or light-coloured cloth around tree trunks to collect the caterpillars. Fold the burlap back over itself to create a cavity, and the caterpillars will collect in there. Similar to the first method, put the caterpillars in soapy water.

According to LSRCA, the reasoning for this method is that the caterpillars tend to feed at night and climb down the tree to shelter from the heat during the day.

LSRCA is urging people to avoid pesticides as they could contaminate the local waterways and harm the environment.