SPONGY MOTH (GYPSY MOTH)

February 1, 2024

The European Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar or EGM), now known as spongy moth, is native to Europe and first arrived in the United States in Massachusetts in 1869. This moth is a significant pest because the caterpillars have voracious appetites for more than 300 species of trees and shrubs, posing a danger to North America’s forests. The caterpillars defoliate trees, leaving trees vulnerable to diseases and other pests and can eventually kill the tree. Although trees can survive defoliation, assuming the tree doesn’t have any other stress factors, after 2-3 consecutive years of defoliation by insects, a tree will most likely die. There are preventative treatments such as physically removing sacks of eggs from parts of the tree or spraying horticultural oil or insecticidal soaps onto the egg mass. This must be done before they hatch in late spring. Other methods are to use a systemic insecticide with long lasting residual results. These can be directly injected into the trunk of the tree or injected into the soil. This is the preferred method other than manually removing mass.

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