For years they have caused a lot of destruction to our trees in Michigan. These pesky caterpillars have not gone away, however now we need to stop referring to them as "gypsy" months. The Entomological Society of America had made a change because the moniker "gypsy" is considered to be a derogatory slur against Romani people. The name was actually dropped from their list of common names in July 2021.
So what do we call these pests now? You could always call them by their scientific name of the "Lymantria dispar moth", but the new common name will be the "Spongy moth". The new name refers to the insect's light brown, fuzzy egg masses that look like sponges.
The name has changed, but this invasive moth can still cause significant damage to trees in the eastern United States. These insects were introduced to the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century from Europe. An amateur entomologist named Leopold Trouvelot wanted to breed a hardy, silk-producing, insect that wasn't as susceptible to disease like the silkworm moth was. In the 1860s, some of these moths escaped from his house in Massachusetts and made their way into the woods near his home.
These pests are very hungry insects. They can eat the leaves off the trees on over 700,000 acres per year, causing millions of dollars in damage. They typically like the leaves of oak and aspen trees, but can also be found munching on hundreds of other type of plants. The loss of the foliage makes trees vulnerable to other diseases and pests -- which can lead to the tree dying.
What other pests do you have to worry about here in Michigan?