A population of the European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) was discovered recently in the Greater Cincinnati region. The population is located within the gypsy moth "eradication zone" meaning that the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has responded rapidly to eliminate this general defoliator in our region.
ODA Needs Your Help
As with the discovery of any non-native pest that is targeted for eradication, there is always the possibility that satellite infestations have developed prior to the discovery of the main infestation. ODA needs your help with discovering and reporting any undetected satellite infestations.
What to Look For: Caterpillars
The three images below show the gypsy moth caterpillars as they currently appear in the infestation. They are nearing pupation, so they are large caterpillars. Note that while these hairy caterpillars vary slightly in coloration, a "blue spots - red spots" feature remains constant. Just behind the head are five pairs of blue spots followed by six pairs of brick red spots.
What to Look For: Plant Hosts
Oaks are generally considered a preferred host; however, the caterpillars may feed on a wide variety of landscape and forest plants. Note that the caterpillars in two of the images are on Colorado blue spruce; all spruces (Picea spp.) are susceptible. Other possible hosts include: alder, Alnus spp.; aspen, Populus spp.; gray birch, Betula populifolia; white birch, B. papyrifera; hawthorn, Crateagus spp.; hemlock, Tsuga spp.; Japanese maple, Acer palmatum; larch, Larix spp.; linden, Tilia spp.; mountain ash; Sorbus spp.; willows, Salix spp.; and witch-hazel, Hamamelis spp.
Caterpillars are general defoliators; damage will appear as missing pieces of leaves / needles or the complete loss of leaves / needles. Damage on spruce looks similar to bagworm damage.
If you find gypsy moth caterpillars in Ohio in the Greater Cincinnati region, please report it immediately to:
If you find gypsy moth caterpillars in the Greater Cincinnati region in Kentucky or Indiana, please report it immediately to the appropriate regulatory agencies for those states: