Spongy “Gypsy” Moth

What is Gypsy Moth?

It is a moth in the family Erebidae that is of Eurasian origin. It has a range which covers Europe, Africa, and North America. The gypsy moth is one of the most destructive pests of hardwood trees in the eastern United States.

What does Gypsy Moth look like?

Female gypsy moths are a light cream color with wide abdomens and short, thin antennae. Their wings have brown zigzag stripes. European females do not fly, while Asian gypsy moth females can. Male gypsy moths are darker and smaller than the females. They are a tan brown color and have dark zigzag markings on their wings. They also have distinct, hairy antennae which they use to located females by scent.

How do you control Gypsy Moth?

Over the last 20 years, several millions of acres of forest land have been aerially sprayed with pesticides in order to suppress outbreak gypsy moth populations. Though some areas are treated by private companies under contract with land owners, most areas are sprayed under joint programs of state governments and the USDA Forest Service. Your local extension service can provide more detailed information about programs in your area.

The USDA, State and local governments also jointly participate in programs to locate and eradicate new gypsy moth populations in currently uninfested areas. Most of these projects focus on populations of European origin, but recently several Asian populations have been discovered and eradicated in the US and Canada.