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Gypsy Moth

A gypsy moth caterpillar on a half-eaten leaf.
Gypsy moth caterpillar.

European gypsy moths were introduced into Massachusetts in 1869 by an amateur entomologist. Since then, gypsy moths have defoliated millions of acres of trees in forests and urban areas in at least 20 states and the Washington DC area.

Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on more than 300 species of deciduous and evergreen trees. Their populations tend to outbreak in localized areas about every 10 years. During outbreaks, they may defoliate entire stands of trees or forests.

Gypsy moths were first found in Wisconsin in the mid-1970s in the eastern part of the state. By 1989, they had settled along Wisconsin's eastern shore from Milwaukee to Green Bay. Moths have since been found in every county. The eastern two-thirds of the state is considered generally infested and is quarantined. The quarantine prohibits the movement of items that could harbor gypsy moth eggs, caterpillars or adults and allow them to be moved to uninfested areas. For information on what items are regulated and how to comply with the law, go to the Wisconsin gypsy moth quarantine page [exit DNR].

People living in non-quarantined counties may come across gypsy moth. If you do, call 1-800-642-MOTH (6684) or email to report it and please take these reasonable precautions [PDF] to reduce the spread of gypsy moth.

The effort to slow the establishment of gypsy moth continues in unquarantined counties of western Wisconsin. In these counties, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) monitors for the pest using traps and conducts aerial spray treatments on any isolated populations it finds. Find more information on DATCP's gypsy moth aerial spray program [exit DNR] page.

More information is available on the Wisconsin gypsy moth portal [exit DNR].