Moths in the News: Invasive Gypsy Moth

Lots of people have negative impressions of moths, knowing them as pests that eat their clothes or as caterpillars that defoliate their trees and other plants. Generally speaking, these are uncommon occurrences. Yes, some moths eat fabrics, and yes, most caterpillars eat plants. But usually the eating is kept in check by predators like birds. There are some exceptions, of course.

One of these exceptions is when a non-native species is introduced into a new area. In the northeast part of the United States the introduced Gypsy Moths that are wreaking havoc. There are actually several species from Asia and Europe. They are from the genus Lymantria.

The USDA has a website dedicated to these moths with instructions on how to make sure you don't transport them to a new area if you are moving from an area where they are known to be found.

I see there are a handful of iNaturalist observations in the central part of the United States. While I am always keen to see a new species, I'll hope they are not spreading into the Great Plains. Realistically I think they have probably reached the point that they are beyond control and it will probably just be a matter of when, rather than if, they arrive here.

The USDA has webpages on four other invasive moths that are being monitored:
European Grapevine Moth
False Codling Moth
Light Brown Apple Moth
Old World Bollworm

Posted by zdufran zdufran, June 11, 2019 15:23

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