Combating an Invasive Species: The Gypsy Moth Infestation

Illustration of gypsy moth caterpillar and adult
Illustration from “The Home and School Reference Work, Volume IV” by The Home and School Education Society, H. M. Dixon, President and Managing Editor, published in 1917 by The Home and School Education Society. Image file found here.

 

Today, we may see gypsy moths outside our homes or in our woodlands and think nothing of them, but this insect has a tumultuous history in the United States.

In 1869, an amateur entomologist imported this species from Europe to his home in Medford, Massachusetts. He intended to use the moths to breed a silk-spinning moth that would be more resistant to disease than the domestic silkmoth. Unsurprisingly, several adult moths escaped from their enclosures, setting a number of problems in motion that we continue to grapple with today.

Stop by to learn more about Kingston’s efforts to eradicate this pest in this month’s local history exhibit!