The caterpillars of this moth are leaf-eating machines! They can completely strip every leaf off an oak tree and many other tree species.
Gypsy moths feed on several types of birch trees. The outer bark of this paper birch is smooth, thin, and white. The paper birch grows along stream banks, lakeshores, and on the moist slopes of hills.
These moths feed on over 100 species of trees, including oaks. Oak trees can grow to heights of 100 feet or more. Acorns are a good sign that you have spotted an oak tree!
Sweetgum is also a favorite of gypsy moths. These trees have star-shaped leaves with 3-7 lobes and spiky fruit.
Aspen is another favorite of the gypsy moth. The big-tooth aspen has shiny leaves and a long petiole, which makes the leaves ripple easily in the wind.
Gypsy moths can feed on over 100 species of plants, including oak trees like the one in this picture.
The larvae or caterpillars chew holes in leaves. They are very efficient eaters and can strip trees of all their leaves in short periods of time.
An egg mass can contain up to 1,000 eggs and is covered with tan-colored hairs. The masses can be found on trees, logs, and buildings.
Gypsy moth larvae feeding on leaves—caught in the act!
Entire trees can lose their leaves from hungry caterpillars!
This is a forested area in summer that is recovering from a gypsy moth infestation.
Gypsy moths have stripped this tree of all its leaves!
Gypsy moths have an unlikely natural predator—a fungus! The fungus produces spores (seen in the picture to the right) that stick to the caterpillar's fuzzy hairs. After the caterpillars die, the hairs drift away in the wind and carry the spores to a new location, where they'll infect other caterpillars. Pretty neat!
Deer mice are an important native and natural enemy of the gypsy moth.
Traps that smell like female moths attract the males. If there are male moths in the traps, scientists know that nearby trees are at risk of a gypsy moth invasion!