The USDA has a coordinated Federal-state program to control populations and limit at least the human propagated spread of the Gypsy moth from currently quarantined states into new areas. The Gypsy Moth quarantine currently includes the District of Columbia and the entire states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. As well as spreading in concert with humans, populations can naturally spread by female moths flying to uninfested areas, or at the larval (caterpillar) stage, which are carried on the wind by their silk threads.
The government has developed another interesting control program which sprays effected areas with an engineered baculovirus, which is very effective in killing the caterpillars. The baculovirus works by changing the nocturnally-feeding caterpillars behavior, so that they remain high in the forest canopy instead of their usual return to daytime hiding places on the ground. When the virus then kills the caterpillar, the caterpillar's flesh dissolves and the virus rains down from the top of the tree and is widely spread to other caterpillars below.
The asian subspecies of Lymantria dispar, although similar to the European subspecies described above, has never become established in North America. Because it is a stronger flier than the European subspecies, and presumably could quickly spread throughout the US, it is considered a major threat and carefully monitored at likely entry pathways.
(Aphis-USDA 2003; Aphis-USDA 2011; Hamilton, 2011; Hoover et al. 2011; Liebhold 2003; McManus et al 1989)
- Aphis-USDA 2003. Fact sheet: Asian Gypsy Moth. Retrieved as a pdf Sept 15, 2011 from http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/gypsy_moth/index.shtml" target = "_blank">http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/gypsy_moth/index.shtml.
- Aphis-USDA 2011. Plant Health. European Gypsy Moth – background. Retrieved Sept 15, 2011 from http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/gypsy_moth/egm-background.shtml" target = "_blank">http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/gypsy_moth/egm-background.shtml.
- Hamilton, Jon. Sept 12, 2011. How a clever virus kills a very hungry caterpillar. Morning edition, National Public Radio. Transcript retrieved September 15, 2011 from http://www.npr.org/2011/09/12/140226986/how-a-clever-virus-kills-a-very-hungry-caterpillar.
- Hoover, K. et al. 2011. A Gene for an Extended Phenotype. Science 333, 1401. DOI: 10.1126/science.1209199.
- Leibhold, S. 2003. Gypsy Moth in North America. US Forest Service. Retrieved Sept 16, 2011 from http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/morgantown/4557/gmoth/trouvelot/
- McManus, M. Schneeberger, N. Reardon, R. and G. Mason 1989. Gypsy Moth. Forest Insect & Disease Leaflet 162, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Retrieved Sept. 15, 2011 from http://na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/fidls/gypsymoth/gypsy.htm
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