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Spongy Moth

Scientific Name

Lymantria dispar Linnaeus (ITIS)

Common Name

Spongy Moth; formerly known as European gypsy moth (EGM), Gypsy moth (Entomological Society of America 2022)

Native To

Europe (CABI)

Date of U.S. Introduction
Means of Introduction

Imported for silk production (Smithsonian 1999)

Impact

Defoliates trees (Smithsonian 1999)

European Gypsy Moth

European Gypsy Moth, Pinned specimen of adult European/North American female (top) and male (bottom); USDA, APHIS, Plant Protection and Quarantine Archives

Find more images

Spotlights

  • 'Spongy Moth' Adopted as New Common Name for Lymantria dispar

    • Mar 2, 2022
    • Entomological Society of America.

    • The ESA Governing Board voted unanimously last week to approve the addition of "spongy moth" to ESA's Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List, completing a process started in July 2021 when the previous name, "gypsy moth," was removed due to its use of a derogatory term for the Romani people. Translation of the French name is based on the destructive forest pest's sponge-like egg masses.

  • USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Supports the Entomological Society of America’s New Common Name for Lymantria dispar

    • Mar 2, 2022
    • USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) supports The Entomological Society of America's (ESA) initiative to replace the common name for L. dispar and participated in the effort to identify a new common name for this pest. APHIS continues to support ESA’s work on the “Better Common Names Project.” To prevent its spread, APHIS regulates the European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) that is found in the Northeastern United States. While we support ESA’s initiative, we face a significant challenge in implementing the name change at this time because of a related pest of concern: the Asian gypsy moth.

      To align with ESA’s initiative and to ensure the effectiveness of our regulatory program, APHIS is exploring options for addressing the naming challenge for the Asian gypsy moth. To do this, APHIS will work with its international partners to explore options. This is critical before APHIS can implement the name change for the European gypsy moth to the newly announced common name “spongy moth.” Once a name change can be applied to the Asian gypsy moth, APHIS will begin to incorporate the new common names into our regulatory language and outreach products.

  • APHIS Adds Eau Claire and Richland Counties, Wisconsin to the Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) Quarantine Area

    • May 19, 2021
    • USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    • Effective immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is adding Eau Claire and Richland Counties in Wisconsin to the list of quarantine areas for gypsy moth (GM). The GM populations in these counties have reached the threshold to trigger the quarantine expansion. To prevent the further spread of GM, the attached Federal Order [PDF | 186 KB] establishes Eau Claire and Richland Counties in Wisconsin as quarantine areas. Effective immediately, all interstate movement of GM-regulated articles from Eau Claire and Richland Counties must be handled in accordance with the attached Federal Order. Wisconsin has established a parallel state quarantine.

  • Entomological Society of America Discontinues Use of Gypsy Moth, Ant

    • Jul 7, 2021
    • Entomological Society of America.

    • Names change marks launch of Entomological Society of America (ESA) effort to review, revise problematic insect common names. The ESA has removed “gypsy moth” and “gypsy ant” as recognized common names for two insect species in its Common Names of Insects and Related Organisms List.

      The changes are made in conjunction with the launch of a new ESA program to review and replace insect common names that may be inappropriate or offensive. Entomologists, scientists in related fields, and the public are invited to participate in identifying and proposing alternatives for insect common names that perpetuate negative ethnic or racial stereotypes.

  • Gypsy Moths Are Making A Comeback in Vermont. Why?

    • Jun 7, 2021
    • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.

    • Many people in Vermont are encountering gypsy moths (GM) for the first time. This invasive species arrived in the United States over 100 years ago and has been expanding its range ever since. They can be significant defoliators (leaf eaters) of trees and shrubs. They prefer oak trees, but when there are a lot of caterpillars around they will eat any type of leaf, including maple and pine. Vermont has not seen an outbreak of GM since 1991. At that time a fungus called Entomophaga maimaiga became prevalent in the area and significantly decreased the GM population. But the dry weather that we’ve experienced over the last few years has not been good for fungi, and the absence of fungi has allowed the GM numbers to increase.

  • Summer Movers: Protect Your New Neighborhoods and Surrounding Areas from Gypsy Moths

    • Jun 1, 2021
    • USDA. Blog.

    • If you are moving this year from a location within the gypsy moth quarantine area to a location outside the quarantine area, please inspect outdoor household items for pests. This is a federal requirement for homeowners moving from gypsy moth quarantine areas.

      By complying with the law, you may also save a forest. Gypsy moths are destructive, invasive pests! European gypsy moth larvae feed on over 300 plant species including oak, aspen and elm. Gypsy moths have defoliated more than 83 million acres in the United States since 1970. About 70% of susceptible forests have never been infested and are at risk.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

Federally Regulated

Videos

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
  • Fact Sheet: Gypsy Moth [PDF | 983 KB]

    • Dec 2016
    • Alberta Invasive Species Council (Canada).

    • See also: Fact Sheets for more information about individual invasive species, including those listed as "Prohibited Noxious" and "Noxious" under the Alberta Weed Control Act

Partnership
Federal Government
  • Before Moving, Check for the Gypsy Moth

    • USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    • It's the Law -- If you are moving from a gypsy moth quarantine area to a non-quarantine area, you must inspect your outdoor household items for the gypsy moth and remove all life stages of this destructive insect before you move.

  • Historical Gypsy Moth Publications

    • USDA. ARS. National Agricultural Library.

    • This collection of publications in NAL's Digital Repository provides access to and addresses a number of topics concerning the gypsy and the related brown-tail moths, from biological control methods to tree banding to quarantine practices. The bulk of the documents were published from 1891 to 1923 by various agencies in the area of the initial infestation, including the State Board of Agriculture for Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, but also include some more modern USDA publications.

  • Hungry Pests: The Threat - European Gypsy Moth

    • USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

  • Invasive Forest Insects - Lymantria dispar dispar

    • USDA. FS. Forest Health Protection.

    • The USDA program to manage Lymantria dispar is a partnership with the Forest Service, APHIS, and state partners, to suppress outbreaks in the generally infested area, eradicate isolated infestations in the uninfested area, and slow the spread along the advancing front.
      See also: The Lymantria dispar Digest for a database containing information about gypsy moth defoliation and treatments at the national level. Treatments include those funded by the Suppression, Eradication, and Slow The Spread (STS) programs.

  • Plant Pest and Disease Program: Insects - Gypsy Moth

    • USDA. APHIS. Plant Protection and Quarantine.

International Government
State and Local Government
Academic
Professional
  • Spongy Moth Transition Toolkit

    • Entomological Society of America.

    • The Entomological Society of America has adopted "spongy moth" as the new common name for the species Lymantria dispar. The name refers to the insect's distinctive sponge-like egg masses and is derived from translations of common names used for the insect in its native range and French-speaking Canada.

      The primary goal of this toolkit is to provide individuals and organizations adopting "spongy moth" with information about the change, resources needed to implement the name change, and suggestions for communicating the name change to their stakeholders.

Citations