Spongy moth formerly known as Gypsy Moth

Arborjet | Ecologel, a leader in plant health care and water conservation technology, urges residents and municipalities to treat for one of New England’s oldest and most persistent insect pests, the spongy moth, formerly known as Gypsy Moth. Originally introduced to the United States in the 1800s to help manufacture silk, it was accidently released into the wild and has since become established, causing extensive foliar damage to a diverse array of deciduous trees.

For more than 100 years, Lymantria dispar had a common name based on a derogatory slur for people of Romani descent. In 2021, the Entomological Society of America decided to change the name of the species to be non-offensive, and on March 2, 2022 the common name “spongy moth” was announced. ‘Spongy’ refers to the texture of the egg masses, the life stage in which the moth spends most of its life.

The past several years, countless trees all across the country were stripped of leaves from these pests, and their droppings caused an unsightly mess. Spongy moth season usually hits in the spring, with the fuzzy black caterpillars covering trees, plants, patios, and often cars across the region. Egg masses laid on firewood or other objects can be easily transported to new areas.

“Timely spongy moth treatment is important as the caterpillars increase in size to minimize feeding damage,” said Rob Gorden, Director of Urban Forestry and Business Development for Arborjet. “By treating trees, they will be protected for multiple seasons and can continue to thrive. It’s important to note, trees which are not treated and lose their leaves two years in a row may die, and the cost of replacing mature trees is immense.”

Arborjet offers an environmentally responsible tree injection treatment, TREE-äge R10, to control the spongy moth population for up to two years. This effective method injects and seals the treatment directly into a tree’s vascular system so it does not seep into the air or soil. It also ensures the treatment reaches the spongy moth larvae as it feeds.

Spongy moth larvae feed on several types of trees, and under high population pressure will feed on almost any tree or shrub, chewing through the leaves and in many cases completely defoliating trees. Their preferred species include Oak, Maple, Beech, Birch, Hawthorn, Apple, Poplar and Willow trees. Mature larvae may even feed on Hemlock, Spruce and Pine Trees.

In some cases, Arborjet will donate treatment as part of a company initiative “Saving America’s Iconic Trees,” a campaign created to ensure the health and longevity of the country’s trees. The program targets America’s most beloved trees, offering complimentary treatment to prevent insects, disease and poor health. Arborjet hosts educational events nationwide, and invites homeowners, state, city, town and municipal leaders to nominate iconic trees in their communities for potential recognition and treatment.
For further information, demonstrations or to request an interview, please contact:

Rob Gorden, Arborjet
Director of Urban Forestry and Business Development