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Gypsy moth

By: Garden Gate staff
Gypsy moth is a major pest in the Eastern United States and Canada, but it is moving west.

pest watch

Gypsy moth Lymantria dispar

IDENTIFICATION – Gypsy moth is a major pest in the Eastern United States and Canada, but it is moving west. The damage done by gypsy moths is dramatic — they’re capable of defoliating entire forests. The caterpillars can be identified by the five pairs of blue dots along the back, followed by six pairs of red dots. Adult male moths are dark and can fly; the females are flightless and a creamy white color.

LIFE CYCLE – Gypsy moths begin as eggs that were laid by the female moths on tree bark in late summer. The following spring, the larvae hatch and begin feeding on the leaves of the tree. Larvae feed in May and June, then pupate and emerge as adult gypsy moths in July and August. The females lay hairy brown egg masses that are several inches long shortly after emerging. Adult gypsy moths don’t live more than two weeks.

CONTROL – If you live in an area where gypsy moths are common, keep your trees healthy and watered. In the fall and winter, scout your trees for egg masses and scrape them off — larvae that survive winter will hatch in spring. When they’re small, spraying Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is effective. If you visit areas where gypsy moths are prevalent in July and August, check your car and camping equipment because females may lay eggs on them. For control programs in your area contact your extension service.

Published: Jan. 15, 2008
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