Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Impact Summary
- Environmental Impact
- Impact: Biodiversity
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Detection and Inspection
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Lymantria dispar Linnaeus
Preferred Common Name
- gypsy moth
Other Scientific Names
- Bombyx dispar Linnaeus
- Hypogymna dispar Linnaeus
- Liparis dispar Linnaeus
- Ocneria dispar Linnaeus
- Phalaena dispar Linnaeus
- Porthesia dispar Linnaeus
- Porthetria dispar Linnaeus
International Common Names
- Spanish: lagarta peluda de los encinares
- French: bombyx disparate; spongieuse; zig-zag
Local Common Names
- Denmark: lovskovnonne
- Finland: lehtinunna
- Germany: Grossdickkopf; Schwammspinner, Gemeiner; Schwammspinner, Grosser
- Israel: tavai haalon hasayir
- Italy: bombice dispari; farfala dispari; limantria dispari
- Japan: maimaiga
- Netherlands: Plakker; Stamuil; Zigzag
- Norway: lauvskognonne
- Sweden: loevskogsnunna; traedgardsnunna
- Turkey: kir tirtili
- LYMADI (Lymantria dispar)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The gypsy moth is likely to ultimately occupy virtually all portions of the temperate world where oaks and other suitable host plants occur. Consequently, the northern hemisphere is more at risk for establishment than the southern hemisphere though some suitable hosts do occur in these areas. The gypsy moth is apparently not able to persist in very cold (e.g. Finland) or warm (subtropical to tropical) regions.
The gypsy moth is a 'proven' invader. The broad range of host plants that it utilizes (Liebhold et al. 1995), along with its high reproductive rate combine to make this insect a very successful invader of many types of forest and urban landscapes. Another characteristic that contributes to the gypsy moth's invasiveness is its propensity to be transported on human-made objects (e.g., egg masses can be laid on vehicles, logs, etc.). Perhaps the greatest limitation this species has as an invader is that females (of the European strain) are incapable of flight and this limits its rate of unassisted range expansion. However, as females of the Asian strain are capable of flight and all strains can lay their eggs on human-made objects, established populations are nevertheless able to spread.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Erebidae
- Subfamily: Lymantriinae
- Genus: Lymantria
- Species: Lymantria dispar
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The species has been placed in various genera, including Porthetria, before being assigned to the genus Lymantria.
DescriptionTop of page
Grey, pellet-like eggs (ca 1 mm diam.) are laid in single clusters, or masses, from 80 to 1200 individuals. Egg masses are ca 2-5 mm long, 0.5-2 mm wide, and are covered by a dense, yellowish coating of hair sloughed off from the female abdomen. Egg masses are found mainly on trunks or lower branches, but also on rocks, walls, fences, etc.
Males and females usually go through five and six instars, respectively. Instars can be determined by the width of the head capsule (von Wellenstein and Schwenke, 1978). First-instar larvae are about 3 mm long. Mature male larvae reach a length of about 40-50 mm and female larvae about 60-70 mm. All instars are hairy but show considerable variation in their coloration. First instars are grey-black. Later instars are more colourful with black, yellow, blue and red patterns. The head is predominantly dark in the first three and yellow in the last three instars. The main characteristics of the gypsy moth larvae are, on the dorsum, two rows of blue tubercles on the first five segments and two rows of red tubercles on the following six segments. Late instars (e.g., 4th to 6th) can often be found resting on tree trunks or in other cryptic resting sites. Bands of burlap or other fabric can be placed around tree trunks to facilitate finding resting larvae.
Pupae are dark brown and matted with reddish hairs, and are attached to trunks, stones or other objects by silken threads. Male and female pupae are 2-3 cm and 3-4 cm long, respectively. Pupae are also commonly found in bark crevices or other cryptic locations (including under burlap bands).
Sexes show sexual dimorphism. The male has a slender body and is grey-brown in colour, with dark wing markings. The wingspan is about 3-4 cm. Antennae are plumose and much longer than in the female. The female has a larger wingspan (4-7 cm) and body. Her wing colours are nearly all white with wavy, black bands across the forewing. Her abdomen is distended with an egg mass, and is white with yellowish hairs. Females produce a pheromone that attracts males for mating. Even though males are very sensitive in their ability to locate females, the inability of males to locate females apparently limits the viability of isolated low-density populations (Sharov et al., 1995; Contarini et al., 2009; Tobin et al., 2013).
DistributionTop of page
L. dispar is of Eurasian origin. It is widespread from Portugal to Japan and from Finland to North Africa. In altitude it is limited to the growth zone of oaks and other preferred hosts. Moths of Asian and European origins are morphologically similar but differ in their ecological and behavioural characteristics, for example, in their flying capacity, host preferences, etc. Important genetic differences have been found (Bogdanowicz et al., 1993; Keena et al., 2008). The European strain was accidentally introduced from France into Massachusetts, USA, in 1869. It gradually spread south, north and west to reach Canada in 1924. Today it is considered permanently established in all New England states to Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Wisconsin, and in the Canadian Provinces Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Males are regularly caught in other US states and Canadian Provinces where eradication programmes are conducted to prevent establishment of this pest (USDA Forest Service, 1996, 1997; Hajek and Tobin, 2009; Kean et al., 2015). Eradication programmes are also focused on the Asian form of the gypsy moth that has been recently caught in several regions in North America.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Armenia||Present||Mirzoyan and Mirzoyan, 2006|
|-Nei Menggu||Present||Zhang et al., 2005; EPPO, 2014|
|India||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|-Indian Punjab||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Hokkaido||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|-Honshu||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|-Kyushu||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|-Ryukyu Archipelago||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|Korea, DPR||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|Korea, Republic of||Present||APPPC, 1987; EPPO, 2014|
|Kyrgyzstan||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Mongolia||Present||Hauck et al., 2008|
|Turkey||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Canada||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015|
|-British Columbia||Eradicated||1993||EPPO, 2014; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015; Kean et al., 2015|
|-New Brunswick||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015|
|-Newfoundland and Labrador||Present||EPPO, 2014; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015|
|-Nova Scotia||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015|
|-Ontario||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015|
|-Prince Edward Island||Present||EPPO, 2014; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015|
|-Quebec||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015|
|USA||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Arkansas||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-California||Absent, intercepted only||USDA-APHIS, 2004; EPPO, 2014; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Colorado||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Connecticut||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Delaware||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Florida||Eradicated||USDA-APHIS, 2004; EPPO, 2014; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Georgia||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Idaho||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Illinois||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Indiana||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Iowa||Present, few occurrences||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Kentucky||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Maine||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Maryland||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Massachusetts||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Michigan||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Montana||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Nebraska||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-New Hampshire||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-New Jersey||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-New Mexico||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-New York||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-North Carolina||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Ohio||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Oregon||Eradicated||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; USDA-APHIS, 2004; EPPO, 2014; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Pennsylvania||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Rhode Island||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-South Carolina||Eradicated||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; USDA-APHIS, 2004; EPPO, 2014; Kean et al., 2015|
|-South Dakota||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Tennessee||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Utah||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|-Vermont||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Virginia||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Washington||Eradicated||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; USDA-APHIS, 2004; EPPO, 2014; Kean et al., 2015|
|-West Virginia||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Wisconsin||Widespread||EPPO, 2014; USDA-APHIS, 2015|
|-Wyoming||Absent, intercepted only||USDA, 1996; USDA, 1997; Kean et al., 2015|
|Austria||Widespread||****||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Croatia||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Czech Republic||Widespread||EPPO, 2014|
|Finland||Absent, intercepted only||EPPO, 2014|
|France||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Greece||Present||Georgieva et al., 2013; EPPO, 2014|
|Hungary||Widespread||Csóka et al., 2014; EPPO, 2014|
|Italy||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|-Sardinia||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Lithuania||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Macedonia||Present||Georgieva et al., 2013; EPPO, 2014|
|Netherlands||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|Poland||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Romania||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Russian Federation||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|-Eastern Siberia||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-Russian Far East||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|-Siberia||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979|
|-Western Siberia||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|Slovakia||Widespread||Novotny et al., 1998; EPPO, 2014|
|Spain||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|-Balearic Islands||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|Sweden||Restricted distribution||EPPO, 2014|
|UK||Present, few occurrences||Cannon et al., 2004; EPPO, 2014|
|-Channel Islands||Present||EPPO, 2014|
|-England and Wales||Present||Shaw and Skelton, 2008|
|Ukraine||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979; EPPO, 2014|
|Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)||Widespread||Giese and Schneider, 1979|
|New Zealand||Eradicated||Ross, 2005; Kean et al., 2015|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
Natural dispersal of European strains of gypsy moth is limited to short-distance, wind-borne movement of first instars (Liebhold et al., 1992). However, females of the Asian strain are capable of flying distances of >1 km. Range expansion of invading populations is primarily facilitated by long-range movement by humans (Hajek and Tobin, 2010; Kean et al., 2015). Egg masses can be laid on cars, trucks, trains or boats, on logs, or containers that are inadvertently moved by humans. The accidental introduction of L. dispar represents a risk in all temperate countries where it is not yet present, for example, New Zealand and Australia. The USA and Canada have extensive quarantine and eradication programmes to prevent establishment of new isolated populations beyond the current range. The USA currently has a large barrier zone project designed to delay the permanent establishment in states and provinces where the pest is not yet firmly established (Tobin and Blackburn, 2007). New Zealand imports many used cars from Japan and this is a known pathway of gypsy moth introduction (egg masses). In 2003 a Hokkaido gypsy moth male (Lymantria umbrosa) was detected in a pheromone trap in Hamilton, New Zealand (presumably the progeny of an egg mass introduced on a used car) and this detection was followed up by an aerial application of Bacillus thuringiensis for eradication purposes (Kean et al., 2015).
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Main hosts are defined as those that can be consumed by all gypsy moth instars without loss in developmental rate, developmental success, and adult fitness; other hosts are defined as those that can be consumed by some gypsy moth instars (often later instars) but with negative impacts, such as reduced developmental rate or reduced fecundity as adults. For a full list of main hosts, other hosts, and plants that have been shown to be non-suitable hosts, see Liebhold et al. (1995).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Acer negundo (box elder)||Aceraceae||Other|
|Acer platanoides (Norway maple)||Aceraceae||Other|
|Acer rubrum (red maple)||Aceraceae||Other|
|Acer saccharinum (silver maple)||Aceraceae||Other|
|Acer saccharum (sugar maple)||Aceraceae||Other|
|Alnus alnobetula (green alder)||Betulaceae||Other|
|Alnus incana (grey alder)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Alnus rubra (red alder)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch)||Betulaceae||Other|
|Betula lenta (sweet birch)||Betulaceae||Other|
|Betula nigra (river birch)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Betula occidentalis (Water birch)||Betulaceae||Other|
|Betula papyrifera (paper birch)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Betula pendula (common silver birch)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Betula populifolia (gray birch)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Betula pumila (low birch)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Castanea sativa (chestnut)||Fagaceae||Other|
|Cedrus libani (cedar of Lebanon)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Corylus americana (American hazel)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Corylus avellana (hazel)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Corylus cornuta (beaked hazel)||Betulaceae||Other|
|Cotinus coggygria (fustet)||Anacardiaceae||Main|
|Eucalyptus camaldulensis (red gum)||Myrtaceae||Other|
|Fagus grandifolia (American beech)||Fagaceae||Other|
|Fagus sylvatica (common beech)||Fagaceae||Other|
|Hamamelis virginiana (Virginian witch-hazel)||Hamamelidaceae||Main|
|Larix decidua (common larch)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Larix kaempferi (Japanese larch)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Larix laricina (American larch)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Larix lyallii (subalpine larch)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Larix occidentalis (western larch)||Pinaceae||Main|
|Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweet gum)||Hamamelidaceae||Main|
|Litchi chinensis (lichi)||Sapindaceae||Other|
|Malus (ornamental species apple)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Malus coronaria (sweet crab-apple)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Malus domestica (apple)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Malus ioensis (prairie crab-apple)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Ostrya virginiana (American hophornbeam)||Betulaceae||Main|
|Picea engelmannii (Engelmann spruce)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Picea glauca (white spruce)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Picea jezoensis (Yeddo spruce)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Picea mariana (black spruce)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Picea rubens (red spruce)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pinus brutia (brutian pine)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pinus echinata (shortleaf pine)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pinus resinosa (red pine)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pinus rigida (pitch pine)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pinus taeda (loblolly pine)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pistacia vera (pistachio)||Anacardiaceae||Main|
|Platanus acerifolia (London planetree)||Platanaceae||Other|
|Populus angustifolia (narrow-leaved poplar)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Populus balsamifera (balm of Gilead)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Populus deltoides (poplar)||Salicaceae||Other|
|Populus grandidentata (Bigtooth aspen)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Populus heterophylla (Swamp cottonwood)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Populus nigra (black poplar)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Populus tremuloides (trembling aspen)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Prunus (stone fruit)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Prunus armeniaca (apricot)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Prunus domestica (plum)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Prunus salicina (Japanese plum)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Prunus serotina (black cherry)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Prunus serrulata (Japanese flowering cherry)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir)||Pinaceae||Other|
|Pyrus communis (European pear)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Quercus alba (white oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus ellipsoidalis (Northern pin oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus garryana (Garry oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus ilex (holm oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus ilicifolia (bear oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus lobata (California white oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus montana (basket oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus muehlenbergii (Chinquapin oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus palustris (pin oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus petraea (durmast oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus robur (common oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus rubra (northern red oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus suber (cork oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Quercus velutina (black oak)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Rhus copallina (Shining sumac)||Anacardiaceae||Main|
|Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)||Anacardiaceae||Main|
|Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac)||Anacardiaceae||Main|
|Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Salix alba (white willow)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Salix babylonica (weeping willow)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Salix fragilis (crack willow)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Salix nigra (black willow)||Salicaceae||Main|
|Sorbus americana (American mountainash)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Sorbus aucuparia (mountain ash)||Rosaceae||Main|
|Tilia americana (basswood)||Tiliaceae||Main|
|Tilia cordata (small-leaf lime)||Tiliaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page
Hatching larvae usually start feeding on flushing buds and later on newly-expanded leaves. High populations often result in total tree defoliation, often across a large spatial area.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Inflorescence / external feeding|
|Leaves / external feeding|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Doane and McManus (1981) extensively reviewed most aspects of the biology, ecology and population dynamics of L. dispar. Other reviews include von Wellenstein and Schwenke (1978), Leonard (1974), Montgomery and Wallner (1988) and Elkinton and Liebhold (1990). The life-cycle of the gypsy moth is as follows. The gypsy moth has one generation per year. Overwintering eggs hatch when host trees produce new leaves, from late March to late May, depending on the climatic situation. Newly hatched larvae can remain on the egg masses for several days before climbing the trees to the branch tips and starting to feed on buds and new leaves. First instars are the main natural dispersal stage. As larvae move upwards, they spin a thread of silk and suspend themselves from the threads that eventually fracture. The young larva is then carried by the wind. While most larvae will not move more than 200 m, some are reported to travel several kilometres. During the first three instars, feeding occurs by daylight. From the fourth instar onwards, larvae mainly feed at night and leave the foliage during daylight to seek resting sites in the litter or on the trunk. However, at outbreak density, feeding continues during the day. Males usually have five instars and females six. The final instars are by far the most voracious feeders. On average, during its entire life a single larva consumes a total of about 1m² of foliage (Doane and McManus 1981).
The larval stage lasts around 8 weeks. At the end of this period, larvae find a resting site, usually on a trunk, on a rock or in the litter, and surround themselves with a silken nest in which they will pupate. Pupal development is usually complete within 2 weeks. Males emerge 1 or 2 days before females and at emergence both sexes are sexually mature. Males are good flyers, but in Europe and North America, females are flightless, although their wings are fully formed. In Asia, however, females are capable of flight. After emergence, females crawl to an elevated place, usually the tree trunk, and begin releasing a pheromone to attract males. Mating lasts up to 1 hour, and although males are capable of mating several times, females usually only mate once. Immediately after mating oviposition of a single egg mass begins. All adults are short-lived, surviving for less than 1 week where no feeding occurs. Embryogenesis commences soon after oviposition and fully formed larvae are complete in the eggs about 2 months after their oviposition. Eggs undergo obligatory diapause. It is not uncommon to find a small number of larvae hatching in late summer but these never develop.
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Anastatus bifasciatus||Parasite||Avci, 2009|
|Apanteles flavicoxis||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Apanteles xanthostigma||Parasite||Avci, 2009|
|Apechthis compunctor||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki||Pathogen||Larvae||Broderick et al., 2006||North America, Europe|
|Blepharipa flavoscutellata||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Blepharipa sericariae||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Blondelia nigripes||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Blondelia nigripes||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Calosoma chinense||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Calosoma inquisitor||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Calosoma reticulatum||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Carabus arcensis||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Carabus auratus||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Carabus glabratus||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Carabus nemoratus||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Carabus violaceus||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Carcelia laxifrons||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Carcelia separata||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Casinaria arjuna||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Coccygomimus morgauesi||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Cotesia schaferi||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|cytoplasmic polyhedrosis viruses||Pathogen||Larvae|
|Dinorhynchus dybowskyi||Predator||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Drino inconspicua||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Entomophaga maimaiga||Pathogen||Csóka et al., 2014|
|Exorista japonica||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Exorista rossica||Parasite||Larvae||Massachusetts; USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Exorista segregata||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Glischrochilus quadripunctatus||Predator||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Glyptapanteles indiensis||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Hyposoter lymantriae||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Hyposoter tricoloripes||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Masicera sylvatica||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Monodontomerus aereus||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Paecilomyces tenuipes||Pathogen||Ghazavi et al., 2005|
|Palexorista disparis||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Phobocampe lymantriae||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Phobocampe unicincta||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Phryxe magnicornis||Parasite||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Pimpla contemplator||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Pimpla hypochondriaca||Parasite||Italy; Sardinia; USA||ornamental woody plants; Quercus suber|
|Procrustes coriaceus||Predator||Larvae||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Rogas indiscretus||Parasite||Larvae||Pennsylvania; Massachusetts; New Jersey; Connecticut; USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Telenomus phalaenarum||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
|Theronia atalantae||Parasite||Italy; Sardinia; USA||ornamental woody plants; Quercus suber|
|Trichomalopsis peregrinus||Parasite||USA||ornamental woody plants|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Natural enemies of L. dispar have been extensively studied in all regions where the pest occurs, mainly as part of biological control programmes (Doane and McManus, 1981; Elkinton and Liebhold, 1990; McCullough et al., 2001; Tobin et al., 2012). Over 100 species of parasitoids have been reported to attack the gypsy moth in Eurasia. Only the most abundant and frequently reared parasitoids are listed in the table. Braconid parasitoids of the gypsy moth have been reviewed by Marsh (1979); ichneumonids by Gupta (1983) and tachinids by Sabrosky and Reardon (1976). More than 50 parasitoid species were introduced into North America, but only 11 have established (Kenis and Lopez Vaamonde, 1998). The most abundant and frequent parasitoids on both continents are the tachinid larval parasitoids: Compsilura concinnata, Parasetigena silvestris and Blepharipa pratensis; the braconid larval parasitoid Cotesia melanoscelus; the egg parasitoid Ooencyrtus kuvanae and the pupal parasitoid Brachymeria intermedia. Other important parasitoids in Eurasia include the braconid larval parasitoids Glyptapanteles porthetriae, G. liparidis and Meteorus pulchricornis; the tachinid larval parasitoids Blepharipa schineri and Exorista spp. and the eupelmid egg parasitoid, Anastatus japonicus. Birds, small mammals (e.g. mice and shrews) and invertebrate predators (e.g. the carabid beetle Calosoma sycophanta) are also known to be important mortality factors, especially at low prey density. Spatial and temporal variation in abundance of small mammal predators is closely tied with the onset of gypsy moth outbreaks (Elkinton and Liebhold, 1990; Jones et al., 1998; Liebhold et al., 2000). Dermestid beetles have been reported as major natural enemies in Morocco (Herard, 1979). In dense outbreak populations diseases are important sources of mortality. A nuclear polyhedrosis virus specific to L. dispar is present all over Eurasia and was apparently introduced into North America in the initial, founding gypsy moth population in 1869. The fungal pathogen, Entomophaga maimaiga, is often responsible for the collapse of outbreak populations of gypsy moth in Japan and, more recently, in North America (Hajek et al., 1993; Hajek et al. 2015). In Russia, microsporidia are known to be an important mortality factor for gypsy moth populations (Zelinskaya, 1980).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural dispersal of the European strain of gypsy moth is primarily by wind-borne dispersal of first instars, and adult flight by males, who are attracted to the sex pheromone released by females, who do not fly. In the Asian strain of gypsy moth, adult females are capable of sustained flight, which could facilitate natural dispersal and population spread.
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Bark||eggs||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||eggs; larvae; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Wood||eggs||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Timber type||Used as packing|
|Loose wood packing material||Yes|
|Processed or treated wood||Yes|
|Solid wood packing material with bark||Yes|
|Solid wood packing material without bark||Yes|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page
In the gypsy moth's native range in Eurasia, outbreaks sometimes occur, but they tend to be localized and of short duration. Severe defoliation results in reduced growth increment and crown dieback, but tree mortality is only occasionally observed. This is in contrast to North America, where major outbreaks tend to occur every 5-10 years, last 2-3 years each time, and occur over a spatially widespread area (Johnson et al., 2005, 2006; Haynes et al., 2009). Two to three years of complete defoliation often results in significant tree mortality, particularly during drought conditions or when trees are stressed by other factors, such as plant pathogens. The difference in outbreak frequency and intensity between gypsy moth in its native Eurasia and North America could be due to absence of certain natural enemies.
L. dispar is considered one of the most important non-native forest pests in the northeastern and Midwestern USA. From 1924-2013, over 37 million hectares were defoliated, including over 11 million hectares between 1980 and 1983; during this outbreak, in Pennsylvania in 1981 alone, timber loss was estimated to be more than US$ 72 million (Montgomery and Wallner, 1988). Other notable outbreaks in the USA occurred between 1989-1993 (>7.4 million hectares) and 2006-2010 (>2.3 million hectares). As the range of the gypsy moth continues to expand, these impacts are also likely to increase (Tobin et al., 2012). In addition to timber impacts, other impacts include costs and losses to the urban and suburban forest including hazard tree removal and replacement, residential impacts, and impacts to the recreational sector (Leuschner et al., 1996; Bigsby et al., 2014).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
The environmental impact of the gypsy moth in its introduced range in North America appears to exceed that in its native range in Eurasia. Oaks and other main host trees in North America appear to be more susceptible to defoliation than its native host plant complex, thus repeated gypsy moth outbreaks have contributed to a regional decline in the component of oak in eastern North American forests (Morin et al., 2001). By doing so, it exacerbates an existing problem of inadequate oak regeneration in this region.
To manage gypsy moth, over 1 million ha of forests have been aerial sprayed with chemical pesticides and biopesticides, which could have serious impacts to both terrestrial and aquatic non-target organisms (Sample et al., 1996). However, in some cases the indirect effects of gypsy moth defoliation to other organisms could exceed the non-target effects of pesticide application (Manderino et al., 2014).
Impact: BiodiversityTop of page
Little information exists about the impact of large-scale defoliation caused by the gypsy moth on native insect and herbaceous plant populations. A recent study showed that gypsy moth defoliation had severe negative effects on a major moth family, Geometridae, which was shown to be protected from the adverse effects of gypsy moth defoliation following application of a biopesticide to mitigate gypsy moth outbreaks (Manderino et al., 2014). Still, there remains concerns that the aerial spraying of pesticides for the control or eradication of gypsy moth populations could negatively impact native Lepidoptera, which is of particular concern for threatened and endangered species.
Recent evidence suggests that at least one parasitoid species (Compsilura concinnata) has had a deleterious impact on native Lepidoptera (Boettner et al., 2000). This is a generalist parasitoid that was introduced from Eurasia, which parasitizes gypsy moth larvae, but also attacks many other species of Lepidoptera. There is good evidence that parasitism has contributed to the decline and endangerment of native silkworm (Cecropia spp.) populations (Boettner et al., 2000).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Lycaeides melissa samuelis (Karner blue butterfly)||USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Michigan||Poisoning||Herms et al., 1997|
|Plethodon shenandoah (Shenandoah salamander)||VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered species||Virginia||Ecosystem change / habitat alteration||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994|
Social ImpactTop of page
Gypsy moth is a serious nuisance in urban and suburban environments. Ornamental trees and shrubs in gardens and recreation areas are often defoliated and massive numbers of larvae sometimes crawl into houses, climb on fences, vehicles and people. Caterpillar hairs provoke allergenic reactions and the larvae contaminate water with their frass. A recent economic evaluation of gypsy moth impacts determined that gypsy moth impacts on homeowners vastly exceeded other impacts (e.g., timber) and that homowners were willing to pay vast sums of money to control populations (Leuschner et al., 1996; Bigsby et al., 2014).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Impact mechanisms
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Pheromone-baited traps are the primary method for detecting and delimiting new isolated gypsy moth populations in previously uninfested areas. Pheromone-baited traps are a very sensitive tool that can be used to detect very low density populations that could not be detected using any other method. Every year, over 300,000 traps are deployed in the USA for detection/delimitation alone (Tobin et al., 2012). When a new population is detected using pheromone traps, it is a common practice to make a search for gypsy moth life stages in order to confirm the presence of a reproducing population. However, given the difficulty of detecting low-density populations in this way, life stages cannot always be found in all populations.
Larvae on foliage are easily distinguishable from other defoliators. Late in the year, host pupae and egg masses on tree trunks indicate gypsy moth infestation. Egg mass counting is a common practice for monitoring infested areas to estimate population density and predict future outbreaks. In North America, the detection of gypsy moth outbreaks is also based on aerial defoliation surveys.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Silvicultural manipulation has been used as a long-term management strategy to limit the ability of gypsy moth populations to increase to outbreak densities. Such strategies are based on thinning strategies. Thinning to reduce host species preferred by the gypsy moth would theoretically reduce stand susceptibility, but is not very satisfactory because the most susceptible tree species, such as oak species, are also usually considered the most valuable timber species. Gottschalk (1993) also suggested presalvage thinning to remove low-vigour trees to lower stand vulnerability. Effects of silvicultural manipulations on gypsy moth populations and tree mortality are discussed by Muzika et al. (1998) and Liebhold et al. (1998).
Following the introduction of gypsy moth into North America in 1869, it was the target of several early and extensive biological control programmes (Howard and Fiske, 1911; Burgess and Crossman, 1929). About 80 species of natural enemies, parasitoids, predators and pathogens were introduced from 1906 to the present but most have failed to establish, possibly due to the lack of alternate hosts (Hoy, 1976). Only 11 parasitoids, one predator and two pathogens established upon their release, some of which have become important mortality factors in North America. Of major interest is the fungal pathogen Entomophaga maimaiga, which was probably introduced accidentally from eastern Asia in the 1980s. Since then, this pathogen has become an important natural enemy of the gypsy moth (Hajek et al., 1993) and it has recently been observed to have replaced the gypsy moth nuclear polyhedrosis virus as the dominant pathogen in outbreaking populations in the USA (Hajek et al., 2015).
Classical biological control programmes have also been implemented in Morocco, where the gypsy moth lacks several of its major natural enemies. The egg parasitoid Ooencyrtus kuvanae and the nuclear polyhedrosis virus were introduced from Europe (Fraval and Villemant, 1995). Other biological control attempts against the gypsy moth include mass releases of O. kuvanae were made in Bulgaria (Chernov, 1976), which resulted in 60% higher egg parasitism. Maksimovic and Sivcev (1984) released gypsy moth eggs to sparse populations to maintain a low density of hosts and sustain parasitoids, which increased parasitism and prevented defoliation in subsequent years.
Efforts to suppress high density, outbreaking gypsy moth populations is primarily through the use of aerial applications of the bacterial biopesticide Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk). In environmentally sensitive areas where there are concerns of the non-targets effects of Btk, Gypchek is often used; Gyphek is the commercial formulation of the gypsy moth nuclear polyhedrosis virus. In the past, more broad-spectrum insecticides have been used, such as the insect growth regulator diflubenzuron and carbaryl, but many of these are no longer used, or used very sparingly, due to their non-target effects.
The most dominant control strategy in efforts to slow the spread of the gypsy moth into uninfested areas in the USA is done using mating disruption strategies (Thorpe et al., 2006; Tobin and Blackburn, 2007). In mating disruption, plastic flakes are impregnated with synthetic pheromone and applied aerially to foliage, which floods the air with pheromone, hence interfering with the male moth’s ability to locate females who release sex pheromone to attract male mates. The overarching goal of mating disruption is to prevent male moths from locating females and mating. Mating disruption is most effective against low-density populations (Tobin et al., 2013), which are more common along the expanding gypsy moth range. In some cases, if a high infestation occurs within a larger area, one strategy is to use Btk with mating disruption; Btk is used against the ‘hot spot’ within a larger block treated with mating disruption (Suckling et al., 2012).
Before chemical insecticides were available, the destruction of egg masses was a common, yet time-consuming, control method. Egg mass removal may still be used in high value stands such as gardens, recreational areas, or by private landowners.
There are three monitoring methods commonly used to assess the level of gypsy moth populations. Pheromone-baited traps are used in regions that lack established populations in early detection efforts, and in efforts to estimate low-to-medium population density along the expanding gypsy moth front (Tobin et al., 2012). At higher densities, counting egg masses is the most appropriate method to predict damage in the following year (Liebhold et al., 1994). Lastly, aerial defoliation surveys are used in North America to detect newly formed outbreaks.
Integrated Pest Management
In countries that are most affected by the gypsy moth problem, such as the USA and some regions of central Europe including Slovakia and Romania, the general control strategy is largely based on well defined IPM programmes that combine various monitoring methods, biological control, biochemical control, silvicultural methods and environmental considerations (Doane and McManus, 1981; Novotny et al., 1998; Orozumbekov et al., 2009; Tobin et al., 2012).
ReferencesTop of page
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ContributorsTop of page
27/03/13 Review by:
Patrick Tobin, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Distribution MapsTop of page
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