Spongy Moth

The female Spongy Moth can lay between 600 to 1,000 eggs
Spongy Moth Scientific Classification
Scientific name
Lymantria dispar
Spongy Moth Physical Characteristics
Brown, Yellow, White, Dark Brown, Cream
The adult life span of Spongy Moths is 2 weeks
Spongy Moth Distribition

Grownup spongy moths just live for about 2 weeks!”


The spongy moth, previously called the gypsy moth, was among the initial finished tasks of the Entomological Culture of America’s Better Common Labels Task. The name “gypsy moth” transformed due to the fact that it was defamatory to the Romani individuals.

In Canada and France, stemmed from the usual name, “ spongieuse” referrals the egg masses which show up sponge- like. The spongy moth becomes part of the Erebidae family and is split right into 3 subspecies. The species rapidly spread out when it was presented to various continents. It is currently in The United States and Canada, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Their larvae make it through on various coniferous and deciduous trees and typically cause considerable devastation throughout periods of mass reproduction. Consequently, they are amongst the globe’s 100 worst intrusive unusual species as assembled by the Worldwide Intrusive Species Data Source.


  • Spongy moths are belonging to Asia, Japan, main and southerly Asia, southerly Europe, and north Africa
  • Grownup spongy moths live for about 2 weeks just to replicate
  • Though they have wings, the European pressure of the grown-up spongy moth can not fly
  • Female spongy moths will certainly mate with just one male, while males are polygynous
  • Spongy moths are extremely damaging, eating the fallen leaves of greater than 500 species of bushes and trees

Scientific Name

The scientific name of the spongy moth is Lymantria dispar Stemmed from Latin, words Lymantria indicates “destroyer” and dispar indicates “to divide,” describing the sex-related dimorphism seen in between the male and female throughout the last phase of transformation.

Carl Linnaeus initially described the spongy moth in 1758. Throughout the years, the classification has actually transformed, which puzzled the taxonomy of the species. The family has actually relocated in between Erebida, Lymantriidae, and Noctuidae. In 1869, the species initially showed up in The United States and Canada. It ended up being an intrusive species when launched from bondage. Different records information exactly how and why this occurred. No matter, when launched, different elimination programs started as the species rapidly spread out as for the Pacific Northwest. The initial intent was to reproduce the species with silk moths to produce a silkworm market in the USA.

Spongy Moth Appearance

Man and females have various looks and pigmentation as a result of the sex-related dimorphism which happens in the last phase of transformation, called the imaginal state. A couple of noteworthy attributes which identify the male and female are dimension, shade, and antennae.

The grown-up female is extra famous, normally 30- 35 millimeters long, contrasted to the man which is in between 20- 25 millimeters long. The female has yellow-colored- white wings with brownish areas populating the outdoors sides. Furthermore, she has brownish markings on the top of her forewings. In contrast, the male’s abdominal area and wings are a brownish and gold shade. The male has dark brownish markings on his forewings and brownish red stripes on his hindwings. The female has slim white antennae, while the male has long, downy brownish antennae. The male’s antennae record the scent fragrances launched by the females.

spongy moth on a leaf
The male spongy moth has long, downy brownish antennae, which record scents launched by females.

iStock.com/ phototrip

Spongy Moth Habits

Food sources, aggressive risks, and sex-related competitors influence the actions from the larval, or caterpillar, phase to the grown-up moth phase. If the host tree gives appropriate feeding the larvae will certainly continue to be on the host for the rest of its life process. Nevertheless, if the host is not appropriate, the larvae will certainly utilize a procedure called ballooning. The larvae will certainly go up throughout of a shoot or branch and fall a silk hair. They will certainly float airborne and await the wind to blow them to an additional host tree. The larvae can duplicate this procedure till they locate a satisfying host. The majority of larvae will certainly take a trip much less than 200 backyards from their hatch website, yet researches have actually revealed they can be lugged approximately half a mile by the wind.

The spongy moth will certainly live on the very same host tree throughout their instar phases, the durations in which they will certainly molt to expand. Males typically molt 5 times and females will certainly molt 6 times, additionally called 6 instars. Throughout their very early instar phases, the larvae feed throughout the early morning and late mid-day, and by the 4th instar, they change to nighttime feeding. By dawn, they pull away to locations that supply one of the most security, such as holes and under bark or branches.

Upon arising from their pupae state, males will fly finding the scents released by the females that continue to be on their host tree to mate with them. While European spongy females do not fly, Eastern spongy moth females do. The Eastern spongy moth can taking a trip cross countries, which offers a genuine danger worrying the devastation of environment. Female Eastern spongy moths can lay their agitate human- made items, which permits the eggs to be quickly moved. If they require brand-new vegetation to prey on, nests can relocate from one location to an additional in search of a brand-new food resource.

Spongy Moth Environment

Spongy moths belong of the Lepidoptera order that includes moths and butterflies. The species is non- indigenous. It has naturalized and rapidly spread out. They live in woody locations and pleasant woodlands whose thickness includes their key host trees. In the USA, the species can be discovered throughout the northeast, consisting of Minnesota, Tennessee and Maine.

Spongy Moth Diet

Spongy moths are herbivores and are ravenous eaters while in their larva, or caterpillar, state. They take in vegetation from greater than 500 species of bushes and trees. Usually thickness of spongy moth are reduced and trigger little recognizable damages. Nevertheless, in years of high thickness, the break out population can trigger considerable devastation by entirely defoliating host trees. When episodes happen, they will certainly typically last one to 5 years. Aspects such as long term defoliation and dry spell can lead to crown dieback, decreased tree development, and tree death. In The United States and Canada, the favored host trees of the spongy moth consist of alder, basswood, cherry, white birch, elm, maple, oak, shivering aspen, and willow.

Predators and Dangers

Because of the intrusive nature and crazy reproduction that accompanies spongy moths, there are very few risks to this species. The female has hair on her abdominal area, which covers and secures the egg collections. While birds such as heaven jay, north oriole, robins, chickadees, and towhees will certainly take in larvae, pupae, and grownups, they are not a key food resource. Nevertheless, the white- footed mouse and north brief- trailed shrew have actually verified vital in managing spongy moth populaces, taking in larvae and pupae discovered closer to the ground.

Reproduction and Life Process

The spongy moth is a holometabolous insect, indicating it undergoes a total transformation. The 4 phases of the life process are egg, larva or caterpillar, pupa, and grownup. The eggs, which are discovered on tree branches or trunks, are stocked July and August near where the female pupated. A female will certainly mate just when, while males will certainly mate numerous times. In her life time, the female will certainly create one egg mass, consisting of in between 600 to 1,200 eggs.

The larvae establish in 4 to 6 weeks; nevertheless, the eggs go into diapause, a duration of put on hold growth, to overwinter (about 8 to 9 months). In April or May, the egg will certainly hatch out and go into the larval, or caterpillar phase, which lasts concerning 2 months. The larvae are much less than 6 millimeters when they arise. Throughout the summertime of May and June, the caterpillars are one of the most energetic and most likely to trigger devastation by defoliation.

In order to expand, the caterpillars total numerous instar phases. They dropped the outside layer of their exoskeleton, prior to getting in the following instar. In the initial instar, the caterpillars are black. They provide blue and red dots in their 2nd or 3rd instar. After finishing her last instars, the female caterpillar is in between 2.5 to 3 inches long, while the males are 1.5 to 2 inches long.

The larvae will certainly choose a secured location, which she will certainly utilize to rotate a cocoon and pupate. Cocoons are typically discovered in tree bark holes, under branches, or on outside products like planters and outing tables. The pupation phase takes about 2 weeks, throughout which time the caterpillar finishes its transformation right into a grown-up moth. Both male and female moths are sexually energetic upon arising from their cocoons. The males usually arise a couple of days prior to the females.

Grownup moths do not eat, and they meet 2 weeks solely for the objective of reproduction. Breeding happens when each year usually in July or August. The female emits scents, a procedure called “calling,” from a tiny gland near completion of her abdominal area. The female can just mate when as she quits sending out scents after mating. The aroma draws in males that fly in a zig- zag pattern in order to find the female. Oviposition, or the depositing of eggs, happens after mating and therefore the cycle proceeds.


The population of the spongy moth rests upon variables such as food sources, climate, and predation. Episodes are intermittent and happen every 10- 15 years. The population throughout this duration differs, and if there are reduced varieties of aggressive creatures and insects, the population can substantially enhance. If a break out happens, it will usually last one to 3 years. Aspects like illness, hunger, and predation will certainly identify when reduced populaces arise. Nevertheless, the population typically stays reduced and caterpillars and grown-up moths, in addition to their vegetation intake, go undetected.


  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymantria
  2. Portal.gov, Available here: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Forestry/Forest-Protection/The-Spongy-Moth-Life-Cycle-and-Related-Moths
  3. CABI.org (1970) www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/31807#totaxonomicTree
  4. CANR (1970) www.canr.msu.edu/resources/spongy-moth-life-cycle
  5. IUCN (1970) www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=96
  6. USANPN (1970) www.usanpn.org/data/forecasts/Spongy_moth

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