Download this fact sheet as a PDF. White oak is the preferred host, but most other oak species in the Northeast are also highly susceptible, as well as many other deciduous species. This includes maple, birch, poplar, willow, apple, hawthorn, and many others.
Conifers, such as pine and spruce, may also be attacked when the preferred host plants are in short supply. While many trees can survive a year of defoliation from gypsy moth if they are otherwise healthy, consecutive years of defoliation can highly stress host trees. These stressed plants then become more vulnerable to secondary pests, such as certain wood-boring insects and decay fungi.
The gypsy moth accidentally escaped the home of E. He had intentionally brought it to his home in Massachusetts, from France, to study the insect with an Adult gypsy moth food in silk production. Since then, gypsy moth has spread throughout the Northeast and well beyond.
It can be a serious pest of trees and a nuisance due to the irritating hairs on its body and the copious amount of excrement frass that it produces in high population years. The gypsy moth overwinters as an egg in a cluster of or more eggs Figures 1 and 2.
Eggs typically hatch in the spring during the first week in May in Massachusetts, but variations in climate and spring weather Adult gypsy moth food either accelerate or delay egg hatching. Once hatched, the tiny, hairy caterpillars may remain in the lower forest canopy or, when in high populations, migrate upwards to the tree tops, where each one then spins down on a long silken thread.
The tiny caterpillars hang in the air waiting for a strong wind to break the thread and carry them to a new location.
It is the only silk that this species produces. Gypsy moth caterpillars do not make silken webs or tents. This type of dispersal helps young larvae relocate to more favorable hosts, such as oaks, while factors such as food quality species composition and the availability of suitable areas to hide during the day such as in rough oak bark may affect gypsy moth dispersal Adult gypsy moth food.
Population sizes of this pest can change dramatically from one year to the next. Once the caterpillars settle on a new host, they begin feeding on the foliage.