Invasive Gypsy Moths Can Cause Extensive Damage to Your Garden in Illinois

Mark Star
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Bug experts may change the name of destructive gypsy moths.

U.S. bug experts are dropping the name gypsy moth because it is considered an ethnic slur. The Entomological Society of America oversees the common names of bugs. This society is getting rid of the common name of that critter and the lesser-known gypsy ant.

Some days ago, the group announced that the name of a bug is being changed for the first time. The reason is that this name sounds quite offensive. In the past, they had reassigned names that were not scientifically incorrect.

“It’s an ethnic slur to begin with that’s been rejected by the Romani people a long time ago,’’ society president Michelle S. Smith said. “Second, nobody wants to be associated with a harmful invasive pest.”

This society is considering more than 1500 insect names to remove the derogatory and geographically inaccurate name of the moth. Nearly 20 years ago, a committee of fish experts had renamed the jewfish into the goliath grouper.

Invasive and Destructive Gypsy Moths

Gypsy moths on their own are not a threat to humans. Their caterpillar stage causes all the damage. After hatching, the caterpillars are likely to feed for one to two months on the leaves of trees. When the caterpillars mature, they start expanding their diet and will start feeding on more than 400 species of shrubs and trees. Their preferred source of food is the leaves of oak species.

If you have plenty of trees in your garden or another part of the house, you must look for gypsy moths because these tiny creatures are going to cause a lot of problems. Heavy defoliation can cause stress to the infested trees, making them susceptible to secondary attacks by other insects and pathogens. This can cause the death of plants in a large number. In some situations, gypsy moths multiply to destructive levels in one to two years.

“They have a voracious appetite that can denude entire forests of leaves, University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum said. He is a past society president.

Use Barrier Bands to Deal With Gypsy Moths

The best way to deal with gypsy moths is through barrier bands. Spring and summer are the best time to apply sticky barrier bands around your trees, about 2-4 feet above the ground. After hatching, caterpillars disperse to neighboring trees on silk threads. Many of them fall out of the trees. With barrier bands, it becomes possible for you to prevent caterpillars from returning to the trees.

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