There's a villainous moth in Indiana that you should eliminate if spotted.

Typically you don't think of moths as harmful in Indiana. Unless, of course, you are like my girlfriend, and you have a tremendous fear of moths. I never understood it. Just the other night, she opened up the back door and screamed because a moth found its way inside. I told her that it was just a moth, it can't hurt her. While that statement might be true, there is one moth that, if found in Indiana, you will want to do away with in a quick fashion.

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Dangerous Moth in Indiana

The moth in question here is the Spongy Moth, also known as the Gypsy Moth. While these moths won't bite you and inject you with any venom, they are a danger. Which is why the USDA has issued a warning that this species is under federal quarantine.

Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) in the night
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Why? According to the USDA:

This moth is a significant pest because the caterpillars have voracious appetites for more than 300 species of trees and shrubs, posing a danger to North America's forests. The caterpillars defoliate trees, leaving trees vulnerable to diseases and other pests and can eventually kill the tree. Egg masses, which have a spongy or hair-like covering, survive through the winter months and can be moved inadvertently on household items and agricultural products. Early detection is critical to limiting the spongy moth's spread.

How to Identify a Gypsy Moth in Indiana?

These moths are generally found in Northern Indiana, but there have been reports of them in Southern Indiana counties. So, in order to stop the spread of the Spongy Moth, you must first know what it looks like. According to the USDA:

  • Visible egg masses: covered with buff or yellowish hair from the female and averages about 1-1/2 inches long and about 3/4 of an inch wide. Adult female moths lay egg masses on any type of surface, including trees and agricultural products, household furniture, and other items.
  • Visible caterpillars: newly hatched caterpillars are black and hairy. Later stages of the larvae develop a mottled yellow to gray pattern with tufts of bristle-like hairs and a distinctive color pattern of five pairs of blue dots followed by six pairs of red dots along their backs.
  • Visible adult moths: male moths are brown with a darker brown pattern on their wings and have a 1-1/2-inch wingspan. Females are slightly larger, with a two-inch wingspan, and nearly white with dark saw-toothed patterns on their wings. Male spongy moth adults can fly but female spongy moth adults do not have flight capability.

You can learn more about these pests at the USDA website. In the event that you do spot them, report your findings to local officials, and stop the spread.

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