The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is an exotic pest from Europe and northern Africa. This insect was brought into the United States as an experiment to improve the silkworm industry in 1869. A wind storm turned over the cages and released the insect into the forests of Massachusetts and this species has been causing serious harm to forests since that time. The caterpillars have a ravenous appetite for tree foliage of several hundred species, but oak leaves are their favorite food. Without corrective action, repeated defoliation of trees by gypsy moth caterpillars can cause tree death or weaken trees to attack by diseases and other insects. Iowa has monitored the westward expansion of this pest since 1970 using pheromone traps. A cooperative state and federal effort is addressing outreach and management plans. Check out the materials below for more information.
Professor, Extension Entomologist
636 Science 2
2310 Pammel Dr
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011