The gypsy moth was introduced to the East Coast in 1869 and since then has been spreading slowly westward. When it arrives, the gypsy moth will be especially devastating to Missouri forests because one of its favorite foods is oak leaves. Mortality in our forests will likely be high due to the age of our forests and because most of our forests have a high percentage of oak species. The Departments of Conservation and Agriculture and numerous other state and federal agencies cooperate on a monitoring program to detect any introductions of gypsy moth. Each year, several moths are found that have been accidentally brought into Missouri from infested states. Spot infestations of gypsy moth were found in the 1990s in Dent County and in northern Arkansas near Branson. These infestations were controlled, delaying the introduction of gypsy moth into Missouri for the time being. Education programs are teaching citizens how to recognize the gypsy moth and instructing them to inspect their vehicles and belongings after visiting an infested state.
2005 Missouri Gypsy Moth Survey
The 2005 Missouri Gypsy Moth Survey has been completed, with ten gypsy moths captured in eight counties. That total is a typical amount for Missouri. However, this is the first year since 1980 that no moths were taken from the St. Louis area. Moths were found in Camden (1), Clay (1), Crawford (1), Franklin (1), Greene (1), Jackson (2), Pettis (2) and Ste. Genevieve (1) counties.
Each year more than 11,000 gypsy moth traps are set out statewide in May and June and monitored in July and August. Agencies providing personnel and resources to conduct the survey are the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Agriculture (the lead agency), USDA APHIS, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of Defense, Missouri National Guard and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Locations where gypsy moths were caught in the previous year are trapped at a greater intensity to determine if actual populations are present. Fortunately, gypsy moths have not yet become established in Missouri.
Gypsy moth populations are present in North America in an area east of a line extending from Wisconsin through northern Illinois and on to North Carolina. This infestation front continues to expand westward toward Missouri.
If you find one of these pests, let us know
Early detection is useful only when the problem is contained and eradicated. To help with this effort, contact the Missouri Departments of Conservation or Agriculture should you find a suspect insect. Collect a sample by trapping the insect in a zippered plastic bag. Place the bag in the freezer for several days to kill the insect then mail the sample in a sturdy container to one of the addresses below. Be sure to include your contact information and the date and location where you captured the sample.
Forest Entomologist, Missouri Department of Conservation
1110 S. College Ave.
Columbia, MO 65201
State Entomologist, Missouri Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 630, 1616 Missouri Blvd.
Jefferson City, MO 65102