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Gypsy moth

Gypsy moth caterpillar Gypsy moth caterpillar

Since it was brought to Massachusetts in 1869, the gypsy moth has eaten the leaves off of millions of acres of trees in both forests and urban areas across the northeast United States. From Massachusetts, the gypsy moth has spread north to Maine, west to Wisconsin and south to North Carolina, infesting 19 states and Washington. Despite many state and local control efforts, the infestation continues to move south and west.

When gypsy moth populations reach outbreak levels--which can happen in an area about every 10 years--they have the ability to eat the leaves off of (defoliate) entire trees or forests. The gypsy moth is not a picky eater, and will feed on more than 200 species of trees, both deciduous and evergreen.

The gypsy moth was first found in Wisconsin in the mid-1970s in the eastern part of the state. In 1989, it had settled along Wisconsin's eastern shore from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Since then, moths have been found in nearly every county and the eastern half of the state is considered infested.

Quarantines are in place to keep gypsy moth from moving with humans to new areas. You can also take reasonable precautions to reduce the spread of gypsy moth [PDF] within quarantined areas. Many counties participate in an annual suppression program to keep potential defoliation at a minimum.

For more information, call 1-800-642-MOTH (6684) or visit the Wisconsin Gypsy Moth Internet site [exit DNR].

Last revised: Tuesday July 21 2015