Caught in the act: a female gypsy moth laying eggs

A couple of weeks ago I spotted a familiar looking moth on a tree in the yard. It took me a couple of seconds to realize it was a female gypsy moth.

That gypsy moth was in the middle of laying its eggs. I could have destroyed it right there and then but decided against it. I thought  maybe a few readers of this blog might want to see what an egg-laying  gypsy moth looks like.

The brown egg mass it deposited contains hundreds of eggs, most of which will survive the winter and hatch next spring.  Cold winter weather doesn’t bother them at all. Once the tiny gypsy moth caterpillars hatch, they’ll climb the tree and start devouring leaves.

The egg mass laid by this female gypsy moth contains hundreds of eggs.

The next time you’re outside enjoying your yard, it might not be a bad idea to look for gypsy moth egg masses. They normally lay eggs on the trunks or lower branches of trees. You can also find them on backyard swing-sets, picnic tables, RVs — just about anything that’s left out side.

It’s a good idea to destroy these eggs masses as soon as you find them. Scrape them off of the tree and throw them in the trash.  Don’t let them lay on the ground thinking that you took care of them. They’re pretty tough and will hatch even if left on the ground all winter.

Now I have a bit of a dilemma, do I take off that egg mass from my tree? Or do I leave it there until spring and take pictures for this blog of hatching gypsy moth caterpillars?

Bob Dluzen
As a result of being a gardener for more than 40 years, 30 of those as a professional, Bob's gardening has become an integral part of his life. "It's the ever-changing seasons and the wide variety of plants and gardens that keeps me intrigued," he says. Bob lives and gardens in rural Monroe County.