Gypsy Moths


The gypsy moth, native to Europe and Asia, is an invasiveGypsy Moth moth that defoliates hundreds of acres of forests from New England west to Michigan and south to Virginia, and also on the west coast from California to British Columbia.

Gypsy MothIt was introduced to the United States in 1869 when French artist, astronomer, and amateur entomologist Leopold Trouvelot imported some eggs of this species to Medford, Massachusetts, with the idea of breeding a silk-spinning caterpillar that was more resistant to disease than the domesticated silkworm. Unfortunately, the caterpillars escaped into his backyard. About 10 years later, they began to appear in large swarms, and by the late 1880s they were causing severe defoliation in the area.

  1. Identification
  2. Life Cycle
  3. Situations & Solutions
  4. Natural Controls
  5. Prevention
  6. What Not To Do
  7. Allergic Reactions


The gypsy moth caterpillar and the eastern tent caterpillar are often confused, but are readily distinguished by comparing the markings of the two species.

The gypsy moth caterpillar has five pairs of bluish warts followed by six rows of red warts running down the length of its back; the eastern tent caterpillar has no warts but a prominent yellowish-white center stripe above. (The latter also has intricate markings in blue, orange, and white and is actually quite beautiful). Tent caterpillars hatch early (about mid-April) and become conspicuous by May when they begin spinning the silken “tents” for shelter. Gypsy moth larvae, on the other hand, are just beginning to emerge by May and are tiny and inconspicuous at that time.