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Spongy Moth

Scientific Name

Lymantria dispar Linnaeus (ITIS)

Common Name

Spongy Moth; formerly known as European gypsy moth (EGM) or Gypsy moth (GM) (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.

  • APHIS Announces New Common Names for Regulated Lymantria Moths

    • Dec 14, 2022
    • USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    • USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is replacing the common name for regulated Lymantria moths. APHIS will replace "gypsy moth" (Lymantria dispar) with "spongy moth" and "Asian gypsy moth" (L. dispar asiatica, L. dispar japonica, L. albescens, L. postalba, and L. umbrosa) with "flighted spongy moth complex." This change aligns APHIS with the Entomological Society of America’s "Better Common Names Project" and the scientific community. Spongy moths are significant invasive forest pests. They can defoliate hundreds of species of trees and shrubs and harm our country’s natural resources.

  • Spongy Moth Population Increases for Third Consecutive Year in Wisconsin

    • Dec 2, 2022
    • Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

    • The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) caught 202,300 spongy moths (formerly named gypsy moth) in 10,044 traps this summer as part of the federal Slow the Spread of the Spongy Moth Program. "Wisconsin weather trends have allowed the spongy moth population to grow over the last several years," said Michael Falk, DATCP's trapping coordinator.

      Spongy moth is an invasive pest that has been spreading westward since its introduction to North America. Caterpillars feed on the leaves of many species of trees and shrubs, especially oaks, and can cause severe leaf loss when feeding in large numbers. For more information, call (800) 642-MOTH (6684), email spongymoth@wisconsin.gov, or visit www.spongymoth.wi.gov.

  • Vermont Officials Report Second Year of Spongy Moth Outbreak

    • Jun 14, 2022
    • Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.

    • In some parts of the state, Vermonters are noticing the return of a disturbing sight in our forests and backyards: masses of spongy moth caterpillars. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) and Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) have received numerous inquiries from concerned citizens regarding large numbers of spongy moth caterpillars, Lymantria dispar dispar, (also known as LDD, formerly gypsy moth). While the spongy moth can emerge anywhere in the state, unusually high populations observed last year and again this spring are localized in western areas of Vermont. More information regarding the impacts of spongy moths on trees and forests can be found at https://fpr.vermont.gov/spongy-moth.

  • 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.

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 Spongy Moth

    • USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    • It's the Law -- If you are moving from a spongy moth quarantine area to a non-quarantine area, you must inspect your outdoor household items for the spongy 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 - Spongy 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