Pest Program Outreach Coordinator
Just what is it like to live in an area infested with gypsy moth when spring time rolls around?
Each gypsy moth egg mass can contain up to 1,000 eggs. In infested areas, trees and other outdoor surfaces can be covered with egg masses. When the eggs hatch and gypsy moths begin to feed, the caterpillars can literally cover trees, houses, play sets, cars – any outdoor (and sometimes indoor!) surface. Check out this video by a homeowner in another state recording the gypsy moth caterpillar infestation at his house.
A serious infestation can result in so many caterpillars, they can fall from trees on anyone walking outside. Imagine picking them out of your hair as you walk to your car or bus stop.
Chewing With Their Mouths Open
|Gypsy moth caterpillars|
We’ve all been taught to chew with our mouths closed. This lesson apparently isn’t passed on to gypsy moth kids. When the caterpillars eat, leaf bits fall from the trees. In outbreaks, residents have even reported hearing the gypsy moths chewing on leaves – day and night.
That’s right. So many caterpillars eating so much that it literally “rains” caterpillar poop. Don’t believe it? One man recorded the phenomenon in this short home video.
The Gypsy Moth Sting
|Caterpillar "sting" by WikiHow User Flickety|
Gypsy moth caterpillars can cause eye, skin, and lung irritation. Some people are allergic to the caterpillar hairs with reactions that include stinging rashes or blisters, as shown in this photo.
These are just a few of the ways that gypsy moths can damage quality of life, beyond the ecological harm they inflict. At WSDA, the Pest Program has successfully prevented the gypsy moth from ruining our springs for 40 years.
Want to learn more? We tried to paint a picture for you in our latest gypsy moth video, and you can hear from people who have lived with the gypsy moth in our old gypsy moth video, as well. Of course, you can always visit our website at agr.wa.gov/gypsymoth for more information.