Gypsy Moth Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some Frequently Asked questions about Gypsy Moth:
How did the Gypsy Moth get here?
The Gypsy Moth is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The Gypsy Moth was brought to North America in 1869 by Mr. L. Trouvelot in a misguided attempt to breed a hardy silkworm. Some escaped and the first recorded defoliation by Gypsy Moth in the United States was recorded in 1889 on the street trees in Trouvelot’s neighborhood in Medford, Massachusetts.
Lacking any natural enemies, the Gypsy Moth was able to survive and thrive becoming one of the most important insect pests of forest and shade trees in the eastern United States. They have moved steadily westward ever since, reaching Michigan in the mid 1950's. The first defoliation noted in Michigan occurred the mid 1980's and outbreaks continue every few years.
Gypsy Moths are spread one of two different ways. Natural spread over short distances occurs as newly hatched larvae spin short lengths of silken thread which allow them to be blown by the wind. The other way, which allows Gypsy Moth to travel greater distances in less amount of time, is by human introduction.
Since its introduction, Gypsy Moths have moved long distances on outdoor household articles such as cars and vehicles, firewood, household goods, and other personal possessions. An estimated 85 percent of new infestations have been through the movement of outdoor house hold articles. Here at the Bay County Gypsy Moth Suppression Program we encourage the public to be aware of moving any item that may contain Gypsy Moth egg masses.
What is the Lifecycle of the Gypsy Moth?
The Gypsy Moth's caterpillar causes damage to trees because it is the only life cycle stage that eats. The feeding caterpillars can completely defoliates trees when the population reaches outbreak levels. Defoliation weakens the trees so they are more susceptible to issues like disease, drought, and harsh winters, which can ultimately cause the tree's death.