Alphabetical Plant Listing

Gypsy Moth

How to Get Rid of Gypsy Moth

What is Gypsy Moth?

The gypsy moth is an invasive moth species native to Europe and Asia that is known for its destructive feeding habits on the leaves of trees and shrubs. The gypsy moth is considered an invasive species and a threat to forest health.

Host Plants

The gypsy moth has a wide range of host plants, including deciduous trees such as oak, maple, birch, willow, and poplar, as well as some conifers like pine and spruce. The caterpillars will also feed on fruit trees like apple, cherry, and peach. They can feed on over 500 species of trees and shrubs.

Regions impacted

The gypsy moth is native to Europe and Asia, but it has been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand.


The gypsy moth is a moth species with a wingspan of up to 2 inches (5 cm). The male moth is brown and flies in a zigzag pattern, while the female is white and cannot fly.

The caterpillar has a hairy body with five pairs of blue dots and six pairs of red dots and feeds on the leaves of trees and shrubs, causing defoliation and damage.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the gypsy moth begins in the spring when the eggs laid by the female moth hatch into small caterpillars. These caterpillars feed on the leaves of trees and shrubs until they reach maturity, which takes about two months.

The mature caterpillars then spin cocoons and undergo pupation, transforming into adult moths.

The male moths fly around looking for the flightless female moths to mate with, after which the females lay their eggs and die. The eggs are small and round, about the size of a pencil eraser, and are laid in masses on trees, rocks, buildings, and other surfaces. Each egg mass contains between 100 to 1000 eggs, which are covered in fine, brownish hairs.

The eggs overwinter until the next spring when the cycle begins again.

The life cycle of the gypsy moth takes about a year to complete.

Damage and Detection

The gypsy moth caterpillars can cause extensive damage to trees and shrubs by feeding on their leaves, leading to defoliation and weakening of the plant. This can make them vulnerable to other pests and diseases and reduce their ability to produce fruit or flowers. The defoliation caused by gypsy moths can also have ecological impacts on the environment, such as reducing the habitat for other animals.

The presence of gypsy moths can be detected by looking for their egg masses on trees and other surfaces in the fall and winter, as well as the hairy caterpillars feeding on the leaves in the spring and summer.

Large amounts of defoliation on trees and shrubs may also indicate the presence of gypsy moths. It is important to take action to control gypsy moth populations before they become established and cause extensive damage.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and control of gypsy moth populations can involve a range of measures, including:

  1. Monitoring: Regular monitoring of the trees and shrubs in the area for gypsy moth activity, including the presence of egg masses and caterpillars.

  2. Cultural control: Pruning and removing egg masses from trees and other surfaces in the fall and winter and removing and destroying caterpillars when they are present.

  3. Biological control: Introducing natural predators of the gypsy moth, such as birds, tachinid flies, parasitic wasps, and ground beetles, can help control populations.

  4. Chemical control: Use of insecticides to control gypsy moth populations, which can be effective when applied at the right time.

  5. Quarantine: Restrictions on the movement of potentially infested materials, such as firewood and nursery stock, can help prevent the spread of gypsy moths.

Prevention and control of gypsy moth populations require a combination of measures to be effective, and early detection is key to preventing the establishment and spread of these pests.

Guide Information

Ihor Hvozdetskyi, Shutterstock

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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