The gypsyÂ moth female is white, males are grey to light brown. Their wingspan is about 5cm. They are a nocturnal pest.Â
Adult females (left)-Virginia Tech, Adult (right)-The Insect Company
Larvae are hairy caterpillars grey and brown, with red spots and are about 5 cm long. Their eggs are tan coloured and covered with hair. Egg masses have about 400 eggs in them.
Caterpillers of the Gypsy moth-Virginia Tech
Eastern United States but these guys have managed to hitch rides on campers and boats and transported to southern Canada, and many other states as well.
Damage to a forest (left), Adult females laying eggs (right)-Virginia Tech
Diet and Damage
The caterpillars feed in masses on tree foilage at night and during the day hide in leaves and other debris on the ground. They cause major destruction on trees by defoiating them eventually the trees will die. Apple, cherry, oak are among their favourites but they will attack any tree and some ornamentals in their range. They have one life cycle per year.
Egg mass on bark (left), Pupae (right)-Virginia Tech
1) Sticky Barrier Bands
Spray tanglefoot or other sticky traps on the bases of the trees and that should trap the caterpillars and the female moths
2) Remove Eggs
Eggs are easy to spot in the spring on the trunks of trees…..scrape them off and destroy them. Put burlap around the base of trees to lure females to lay eggs under then you will localize the egg laying.
3) Parasitic Wasps
Parasitic wasps eat eggs
4) Remove Garden debris
Keep the areas around your trees free of leaves and other garden debris as this is where the caterpillars hide in the day. Rake it all up and burn it to ensure killing the caterpillars. you can later add the ashes to your compost.
Bt sprayed on the caterpillars works well…..but you must spray them directly.
6) Inspect Campers and Boats
If you go travelling then you should inspect the undersides of these vehicles for egg masses. They are known hitchhikers.