Public Works and Environmental Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administrative offices are open to the public by appointment only at this time. Please call or email 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday - Thursday; 9:15 a.m. - 4 p.m. Friday

703-324-1770
TTY 711

12055 Government Center Parkway
Suite 518, Fairfax, Va 22035

Brian Keightley,
Division Director, Urban Forest Management

Gypsy Moths

In 1869, the gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, escaped from a Massachusetts lab and became established in North America. It continues to be a serious insect threat to trees and shrubs in the United States.

Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on leaves of forest, shade, ornamental, fruit trees and shrubs. Large numbers of them can defoliate a tree by eating 60 to 100 percent of its leaves. Hardwood trees such as oak and hickory may be killed by two or more defoliations, but a single defoliation may kill some evergreens. Some of the gypsy moth's favorite host trees are oak, hickory, beech, birch, willow and spruce.

For further information, visit the National Gypsy Moth website or if you find gypsy moth caterpillars on your property, contact the Forest Pest Branch at 703-324-1770, TTY 711, or by email.

Recognize Gypsy Moths and the Signs of Infestation

Click photo to enlarge

Gypsy Moth Caterpillar
Gypsy Moth Caterpillar
Photo by: Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Archive, Bugwood.org
Gypsy Moth Adult Female and Male
Gypsy Moth Adult Female and Male
Photo by: Joseph Berger USDA Forest Service - Region 8 - Southern Archive, Bugwood.org
Gypsy Moth Defoliation
Gypsy Moth Defoliation
Photo by: Louis-Michel Nageleisen, Bugwood.org
 
Gypsy Moth Egg Mass
Gypsy Moth Egg Mass
Photo by: Louis-Michel Nageleisen, Bugwood.org
Gypsy Moth Life Cycle
Gypsy Moth Life Cycle
Photo by: Steven Katovich, Bugwood.org
 

What can you do?

county staff looking through binoculars for gypsy moths

You can help detect gypsy moth infestations by keeping an eye out for the caterpillars in the spring and searching your property for egg masses later in the year. Female moths will lay their eggs starting in mid-July. Egg masses are tan colored and can be seen on tree trunks and undersides of branches or in sheltered areas, such as under the eaves of houses or in wood piles.

Scrape and Destroy

Scraping egg masses into a container of soapy water or bleach solution is an easy way to kill unwanted gypsy moths.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant