Geographic Range And Spread

Gypsy moth occurs throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. Its native range stretches from Japan, China, and Siberia across Russia to western Europe and as far south as the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. In North America, gypsy moth has spread over much of the eastern United States and Canada. Currently, the leading edge of the infestation stretches from North Carolina to Wisconsin and adjacent regions of Ontario. Because female gypsy moths from Europe have wings but do not fly, the rate of spread of this insect has been extremely slow. The spread occurs when newly hatched larvae spin down on silken threads and are blown in the wind. Most of this dispersal is less than 50 m, although some larvae are carried by wind currents for greater distances. Natural spread has been augmented by inadvertent human transport of egg masses laid on vehicles or other backyard objects, often to locations well outside the region infested by gypsy moth in the northeastern United States. Such new infestations have been eradicated at many sites

FIGURE 1 Life stages of gypsy moth. (1,2) Adult female; (3,4) adult male, (5) pupae; (6,7) larvae; (8) egg mass; (9,10) individual eggs. (Reproduced from J. Bridgham, 1896, 43 rd Annual Report, Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture.)

throughout North America. In recent years, attention has shifted to new introductions of gypsy moth from Asia, particularly the Russian Far East. Adult female gypsy moths from these regions are able to fly. Consequently, the rate of spread would be much faster, if they became established. These introductions have occurred at several locations in North America, mainly in the Pacific Northwest, but thus far, none have become established.

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