Gypsy Moth Pheremone Trap Photo: Dan Porter
Well you may have noticed a red tent shaped box in some of our oak trees on campus. They are traps, working with the Missouri Department of Conservation, set to look for the dreaded gypsy moth! Yet another invasive alien species wreaking havok on Americas forests, and with Missouri being home to so many beautiful oaks, I fear some of our forests may be devasted by this pest. According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture's 2009 survey, this pest has been found in Missouri.The gypsy moth came from Eurasia around the mid eighteen hundreds. Because they are not native here, they have few natural predators and competitors. So what kind of damage do they cause? So far it is estimated over 100 million acres of forest have been defoliated by this pest, and it continues.
The larval form, or caterpillar form, is the most damaging. Though they prefer oaks, they will feed on many other species of trees. This form hatches from their eggs early spring through late May. The larval form is known to defoliate complete trees in a single season.
The gypsy moth then reach their adult form around late June through July. They then mate, lay eggs, and soon die and start to disappear around August. The male and female differ in coloration so identification can be troublesome. Please click here to learn more about this pest and its characteristics.
So what can you do to help? Well the gypsy moth gets its name as its a traveler! They often hitch on to camping gear and/or vehicle that visit infested states, so inspect every inch of your gear when you travel before you pack up, and search your vehicles inside and out to slow the spread!
Insects can be tricky to Identify, but if you spot a gypsy moth and are able to collect it please contact the Missouri Department of Conservation.