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Gypsy moth

Gypsy moth caterpillar Gypsy moth caterpillar

European gypsy moths were introduced into Massachusetts in 1869 by an amateur entomologist. Since then, gypsy moths have defoliated millions of acres of trees in forests and urban areas across the northeastern United States. Gypsy moths have now spread north to Maine, west to Wisconsin and south to North Carolina, infesting 19 states and the Washington, D.C. area.

Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on more than 300 species of deciduous and evergreen trees. Their populations tend to outbreak (surge) in localized areas about every 10 years or so. During outbreaks, they may defoliate entire trees or forests.

Gypsy moths were first found in Wisconsin in the mid-1970s in the eastern part of the state. By 1989, they had settled along Wisconsin's eastern shore from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Since then, moths have been found in every county; the eastern two-thirds of the state is considered generally infested.

A quarantine of materials that could harbor gypsy moth adults, caterpillars and egg masses is in effect in the eastern two-thirds of the state to keep people from accidentally moving gypsy moths to uninfested areas. People living in quarantined areas are urged to take reasonable precautions to reduce the spread of gypsy moth to unquarantined areas.

For more information, call 1-800-642-MOTH (6684) or visit the Wisconsin Gypsy Moth Portal.

Last revised: Thursday February 07 2019