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Gypsy Moth

Biology, Ecology, and Dynamics

[photo:] First instar larvae (caterpillars) hatch in the spring from eggs laid the previous summer.The gypsy moth (GM), Lymantria dispar Linnaeus, is one of the most notorious pests of hardwood trees in the Eastern United States. Since 1980, the GM has defoliated close to a million or more forested acres each year. In 1981, a record 12.9 million acres were defoliated. This is an area larger than Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut combined.

In wooded suburban areas, during periods of infestation when trees are visibly defoliated, GM larvae crawl up and down walls, across roads, over outdoor furniture, and even inside homes. During periods of feeding they leave behind a mixture of small pieces of leaves and frass, or excrement.

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Last Modified: August 17, 2015