Updated May 9, 2017
Forest Service staff have begun placing gypsy moth traps across Land Between the Lakes this week. Please leave the traps alone, as they are used to learn about new isolated populations. Thank you.
Submitted by Yvonne Helton, Silviculturist
The gypsy moth, Latin name Lymantria dispar, is a devastating forest pest in parts of North America. Gypsy moths originated in Europe and Asia. We consider them an invasive species. The first known occurrence of the gypsy moth occurred in 1869 around Boston, MA shortly after Etienne Trouvelot imported egg masses from France.
Our forestry staff placed Gypsy moth traps at multiple high use recreation areas throughout Land Between the Lakes. You may see traps within campgrounds and facilities located on the national recreation area. We use the traps to detect new isolated populations. So far, the state of Kentucky has avoided gypsy moth populations gaining a foothold.
Gypsy moths feed on the foliage of hundreds of plant species. Oak trees most commonly host the moth. During an outbreak, feeding caterpillars may remove most or all of the foliage from trees. The defoliation causes stress on the trees and increases the chances of a secondary pest taking hold. An example is shoestring root rot. Extensive mortality of oaks generally occurs after two or more consecutive years of defoliation. In extreme cases, trees die after just one year.
Experts believe the gypsy moth population currently spreads at a rate of about 13 miles/year in the U.S. Since a female gypsy moth is incapable of flight, their spread is attributed to natural movement by wind and accidental movement by humans. Humans spread the gypsy moth on recreational equipment, in firewood, or plant nursery materials.
Please remember to leave our traps where they are. You can also do your part to prevent gypsy moth spread. For more information on gypsy moths and what the Forest Service is doing about it visit, http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/morgantown/4557/gmoth/.