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Gypsy Moth an informational guide

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Tree defoliated by the gypsy moth
USDA Forest Service

Tree damage is caused by the insect larvae, or caterpillars, which emerge from their eggs beginning in early spring and continuing through mid-May.  The larvae move to the leaves of trees and begin to eat, mostly at night.  During daylight hours, larvae generally seek shade from the sun but feeding can occur in daytime in heavy infestations.  Gypsy moth larvae grow by moulting, five moults for males and six for females.  Feeding occurs in the “instar” stage or period between each moult.  As might be expected, a caterpillar’s appetite increases with each moult.  Feeding continues until mid-June or early July when the caterpillar enters the pupal stage emerging, finally, as a moth.  Both male and female moths exist only to reproduce once with the male moths flying to find the females who are too heavy to fly.  After the females lay their eggs from July to September, depending on location, moths of both sexes then die.

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