Photo by Melody

Definition of gypsy moth

Categorized under "General"

Definition as written by paulgrow:

The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is one of North America's most devastating forest pests. The species originally evolved in Europe and Asia and has existed there for thousands of years.

In the late 1860s it was accidentally introduced near Boston, MA; in 1890 the government began a series of unsuccessful attempts to eradicate the moth. Its range continues to expand.

Its most common hosts are oaks and aspen, and the highest concentrations host trees are in the southern Appalachian mountains, the Ozarks, and in the northern Lake States.

When densities reach very high levels, trees may become completely defoliated. Several successive years of defoliation, along with contributions by other stress factors, may ultimately result in tree mortality.

Natural Enemies
A variety of natural agents are known to kill gypsy moths in nature. These agents include over 20 insect parasitoids and predators that were introduced over the last 100 years from Asia and Europe. Small mammals are perhaps the most important gypsy moth predator, especially at low population densities. Birds are also known to prey on gypsy moths but at least in North America this does not substantially affect populations. A nucleopolyhedrosis virus usually causes the collapse of outbreak populations and recently an entomopathogenic fungus species has caused considerable mortality of populations in North America.

In addition to aerial spraying of millions of acres of forests, the USDA, state and local governments jointly participate in programs to locate and eradicate new gypsy moth populations in currently uninfested areas. Most of these projects focus on populations of European origin, but recently several Asian populations have been discovered and eradicated in the US and Canada.

Currently numerous groups around the country are investigating various aspects of the biology, ecology, and management of the gypsy moth. This work is funded by the USDA Forest Service, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the USDA Cooperative State Research Service, the USDA Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service, and numerous state and private Universities.

(This excerpt is from material prepared by USDA Forest Service Northeastern Research Station in 1998)

Thumbnail of gypsy moth by paulgrow
(Click for full-size)

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