Pest: An invasive forest pest from Europe Lymantria dispar is a serious tree defoliator introduced to North America in 1868. Adult males are brownish and females white. Since 1868 the Gypsy Moth has continued to spread to include the entire northeastern US, portions of Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, and into Wisconsin. Every year they appear in isolated locations outside the quarantine area. It is inevitable the Gypsy Moth will spread. They can be spread as a results of human activity (motorized vehicles and tourism). Placing traps is one way to help slow their spread. Because Gypsy Moth is non-native, there are few natural enemies to keep them in check.
Females lay mustard colored egg masses late Spring to late Summer. They cannot fly but crawl along tree trunks and nearby objects. Egg masses are deposited in tree crevices, under loose bark, on car wheel-wells, bumpers, yard furniture, firewood. Identifying egg masses and removing them with a knife is another control method. After hatching, young caterpillars climb to the top of a nearby tree to spin a silken thread and catch the wind to the nearest preferred host tree. There they feed until time to pupate in late June or July. Adults do not feed. They mate and die within 1 to 2 weeks.
Damage: Gypsy Moth prefers over 500 tree species, especially Aspen and Oak. Larvae are voracious eaters and can completely defoliate entire trees. Repeated defoliation can lead to the death of many trees.
Kit Use: Hang traps from tree branches, 1 or 2 per yard. On 3-10 acreage plots deploy 3 to 6 traps. Gypsy Moth traps attract adult male moths as soon as they emerge. Dead males cannot mate thus reducing population. Check traps for captured moths. Optionally, contact your local county extension agent at the end of summer to turn in traps containing specimens.
Kit should be considered part of a complete integrated strategy that includes manual identification and removal of egg masses. Do not move or share firewood from one area to another. Regularly check your vehicle for egg masses. Kill white females the moment you see them to stop egg mass deposits.