Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar)

7 August

A moth in the family Erebidae that is of Eurasian origin. It has a range that extends over Europe, Africa, and North America. It is classified as a pest, and its larvae consume the leaves of over 500 species of trees, shrubs and plants. The gypsy moth is one of the most destructive pests of hardwood trees in the eastern United States. It is listed as one of the 100 most destructive invasive species worldwide.

The small larvae of the gypsy moth take to the air and are carried by the wind. The larvae spin silken threads and hang from them, waiting for the wind to blow. The light larvae have long hairs that increase their surface area, which are suitable for being carried aloft.[3]:10 The natural spread is slow, but transportation of the moth has led to isolated gypsy moth populations, with accidental transport of the eggs being noted. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, without intervention, this pest spreads about 13 miles per year. A study published in 2012 suggests that storms can accelerate the spread, hypothesizing that strong easterly winds carried larvae across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin, a distance of at least 50 miles.

Firewood transport is a common way for the eggs to spread, since the moths will lay their eggs on dead wood. Attempts have been made to limit the movement of firewood to reduce the moth’s spread