Lymantria dispar is a quarantined invasive species. Items that could transport this insect may not be moved without permission from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
- Spongy moth* caterpillars are voracious feeders found eating tree leaves at night.
- They are adaptable and can feed on over 300 different species of trees and woody plants.
*A new common name for Lymantria dispar, spongy moth, replaced the prior name of this insect, gypsy moth, in 2022.
How to identify spongy moths
- Spongy moths (Lymantria dispar) as larvae, caterpillars can grow to two inches long and have five pairs of blue spots and six pairs of rusty red spots along their backs.
- Female moths are one to two inches long and do not fly.
- They have cream-colored wings with dark-brown zigzag markings.
- Males are smaller than females and are brownish-gray.
- They have similar markings on their wings and have feathered antennae.
- Eggs are laid in a fuzzy pale-yellow colored mass in late summer to early fall.
- Egg masses are laid on virtually any surface that offers protection, from bark crevices and the underside of branches to mailboxes and campers.
- Pupae are reddish-brown and leathery.
- Female pupae are larger than males.
- Adult moths emerge in mid-summer.
- Females emit a scent to attract male moths, this characteristic influences management.
- Spongy moths complete one life cycle per year.
Reviewed in 2019