GYPSY MOTH  ( Lymantria dispar )

 The gypsy moth, is characteristically a voracious feeder. Large gyspy moth populations tend to be cyclic, and when populations are high, gypsy moths may defoliate whole stands of trees. Although hardwoods are the preferred food source, conifers will be fed upon when populations reach high levels or when other food sources are not available.

 Adult female gypsy moths are nearly white with a few dark, wavy bands on the forewings, while males are basically dark brown with a few darker and lighter markings. Females do not fly. Gypsy moth egg masses are laid in mid-summer, and eggs hatch in April or early May of the following year. The tiny young larvae suspend themselves by silken threads to be blown away by the wind. If they land on a suitable host, they will continue to feed for 6-8 weeks. Late May to early June is the time of year to scout for this insect. Older larvae are more difficult to kill with conventional insecticides.

 In recent years, entomologists with state and federal agencies have expressed concern about the possible introduction of a different strain of the gypsy moth, the Asian gypsy moth, into North America. Conifers are readily consumed by the Asian gypsy moth. Asian gypsy moths may interbreed with North American gypsy moths, producing hybrids that also closely resemble the North American strain. These hybrid gypsy moths may feed more readily on conifers, may have better flight capabilities, and may have a broader host range than the North American strain. As of July 1996, the presence of the Asian Gypsy moth in New York State had not been confirmed, however, trapping and survey efforts are in place in New York State to continue to monitor this pest.

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