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Gypsy Moth

Gypsy Moth Establishment and Early Research

The gypsy moth (GM) is one of North America's most devastating forest pests. The species originally evolved in Europe and Asia, where it is endemic. The gypsy moth was accidentally introduced near Boston, MA, by a (misguided) entomologist trying to breed silkworms for North America, E. Leopold Trouvelot in 1869/9. About 10 years later, the GM population in his neighborhood became noticeable as the first outbreaks began and in 1890 the Massachusetts and U.S. governments began attempting to eradicate the gypsy moth. A federal domestic quarantine was enacted in 1912 to minimize the rapid expansion of the insect to the remainder of the eastern U.S. and Canada. However, these attempts ultimately failed and since then, the gypsy moth invasion front has continued to expand, now reaching to North Carolina in the South and Minnesota in the Midwest. The USDA Forest Service and Animal and Plant Inspection Service’s Slow the Spread program have reduced the annual expansion considerably. However, isolated populations are discovered beyond the contiguous range of the gypsy moth every year, but these populations are eradicated or they disappear without intervention. Though the quarantine is credited with reducing the accidental long-range transport of the various gypsy moth life-stages on regulated commodities, GM still gets accidentally transported on firewood and outdoor recreation equipment. It is inevitable that gypsy moth will continue to expand its range in the future. Outbreaks have occurred as far away as the West Coast, but these have been eradicated by highly focused emergency efforts.


Last Modified: July 9, 2015