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Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

How to spot and remove lymantria dispar moths

Perhaps you have noticed a bunch of dark colored caterpillars on your trees recently? This species is known as lymantria dispar moths and they are a very invasive species of pests. It is important that lymantria dispar moths are removed otherwise they can cause a lot of damage to your trees, and in very severe cases they are able to kill your trees. Which is why I will be going through a list of ways that you can get rid of these pests.

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar

What are lymantria dispar moths?

Commonly referred to as the “gypsy moth” however, bug experts are advocating for people to refrain from using this name, as it is associated with an ethnic slur. We want to encourage people to refer to these moths by its scientific name, the lymantria dispar instead.

Lymantria dispar moths are an invasive species of moth that is native to Europe. They feed on a wide variety of trees including Oak, Birch and Sugar Maple.

Their eggs hatch in the spring and you may notice red, brown or white caterpillars all over your trees. The main issue with these pests is the damage they cause to trees. In a severe case, the damage to the trees may be so bad that it can cause growth loss. On average, one lymantria dispar moth can eat up to one square metre of leaves alone. Which is why it is important to keep an eye out for these moths in the spring and summer.

Gypsy Moth

How to get rid of lymantria dispar moths?

How you are able to control or get rid of lymantria dispar moths depends on how old they are, because different techniques can be used.

  • If you notice patches of eggs on your trees, fences, firewood, or outdoor furniture you can remove and discard them, into a bucket of soap and water which will prevent the eggs from hatching. It is important that these eggs are properly discarded, otherwise it is possible that they can still hatch on the ground.
  • If they are in the early stages of a caterpillar, meaning they have just hatched and are very small, you can apply an insecticide which will kill them off, it is the same insecticide used to remove box tree moths.
  • If they are in the pupae stage, you can remove them by hand, it may take a while but it is very efficient.
  • When they are an adult moth, they are very short lived and cause less harm than the larvae, which is why it is more important to focus on other stages of the lymantria dispar moth life cycle.
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