Gypsy Moths

Control of Gypsy Moth infestations

Gypsy Moth in North America


The gypsy moth is an old world native which immigrated to the Americas In 1869- (they were intentionally imported in an an effort to begin a silk operation.) Despite all control efforts since its introduction, the gypsy moth has survived and prospered while extending its range.

Gypsy moth caterpillars defoliate millions of acres of trees and shrubs annually in the North America

The Gypsy moth caterpillars are black, yellow, and white, with red-brown dots and tufts of hair all along body. The adult male gypsy moths and female gypsy moths are easily distinguished from one another; the male gypsy moths are brownish-gray, whereas the female gypsy moths are white with black markings and slightly larger. The Adult female gypsy moths Adult Male gypsy moths are aprox. 1-3 inches long.

Unlike the male, female gypsy moths are incapable of flight. The Asian gypsy moth females however, do fly. They feed on over 300 species of trees and shrubs but they appear to prefer oaks. Constant defoliation from gypsy moth infestations season after season stresses trees and can / does lead to the trees early demise.

In residential areas gypsy moth caterpillars are an extreme nuisance. Trees lose their foliage, caterpillars crawl everywhere, and their droppings rain from the trees.

Life cycle of the gypsy Moth

Like the Japanese Beetle the gypsy moths entered North America with few natural enemies to keep its populations in check, it found a favorable climate and an abundant food supply.

Once it's established, there is presently no surefire method to eradicate Gypsy Moths, but several strategies to reduce the damage they inflict have proven effective.

Strategies include biological controls to slow the gypsy moths population growth, removing gypsy moths egg masses, killing gypsy moth caterpillars, and insecticide use .

Bacillius thuringiensis is harmful to moths and butterflies at their caterpillar stage of development. Spores are activated in their stomachs when they ingest vegetation sprayed with Bt causing death.

Gypsy Moth Traps

When gypsy moths reach the Adult stage, the males can be trapped with Gypsy Moth Traps. Just like Human males, Gypsy Moths are always fluttering around in search of females. The traps have a pheromone bait inside their lid that arouses their mating drive and they head towards the trap - but theoretically can't get back out, although they sometimes do. This is not a 100% effective method of Gypsy Moth Control.It also draws in Gypsy Moths from the surrounding area that would not have normally found their way to your yard.

Pest Barriers such as Tanglefoot will protect a particular tree or shrub to a large extent, but do very little in way of controlling gypsy moth populations.

Natural Controls

Gypsy moths are susceptible to "nucleopolyhedrosis virus". Occasionally you will see gypsy moth caterpillars hanging from a tree branch or trunk in an inverted V position, Leave these where you find them as other gypsy moth caterpillars will also catch this virus.

This virus is more prevalent in years following a wet moist Spring . This Virus can persist in low density gypsy moth populations , however, when gypsy moth populations are high, the virus spreads more readily and eliminates a higher percentage of the gypsy moth population. There has been research to develop a biological pesticide based on this virus that would be an effective Gypsy Moth Control, but it is not readily available yet. "Gypchek" is its name , and it's used in very limited quantities in some areas and is still in the R&D stage , which it probably will be for quite some time.

Birds will eat Gypsy Moths but they will also feed on many of your ripe garden crops . You will have to judge whether using birds in a gypsy moth control scheme is actually advantageous. If you believe it would be then consider that many birds hunt by watching for movement from a comfortable perch, if your not concerned with birds also eating your crops you could put multiple perches such as trellises, posts and other upright structures to attract birds who will assist in gypsy moth control as well as controlling other garden pests.

Gypsy Moth Control Products