Plant Industry - Spongy Moth

SM Larvae Defoliation


Spongy moth (species name: Lymantria dispar dispar) is an invasive species first established in parts of the U.S. in 1869. Spongy moth caterpillars feed on over 300 species of trees and shrubs and are considered one of the most destructive insect pests threatening our rural and urban forests. North Carolina has proudly helped to contain the spread of this pest since 1981, and the spongy moth treatment and survey programs are among the most successful invasive pest management programs in the United States to date. The only federal spongy moth quarantine areas in North Carolina are Currituck county and the northern portion of Dare county.

Male and Female Spongy Moth

Adult male and female
John H. Ghent, USFS,

Spongy Moth Background
2023 Proposed Spongy Moth Treatments Note: If you are moving from a spongy moth quarantine area to a non-quarantine area, you must inspect your outdoor household items for the spongy moth and remove all life stages of this destructive insect before you move. Please use this checklist when conducting your self-inspection.


Spongy Moth Trap

Each year, NCDA places and checks between 18,000 and 21,000 gypsy moth traps.  Traps are placed in mid-spring and retrieved in mid- to late-summer.  Please do not bother gypsy moth traps!




Plane Spraying insecticide

Localized spongy moth infestations are identified and treated.  Because of the intensive nature of North Carolina’s trapping program, the extent of a particular infestation is known with precision.  Only infested areas are treated.  North Carolina is proud to use only environmentally-friendly products.

Human-caused movement is the greatest contribution to the spread of spongy moth.  High risk industries (timber, moving, etc) are regulated to prevent human-caused movement of spongy moth. 

Egg Mass on Car Wheel


Egg masses being laid on a car wheel. Rusty Haskell, University of Florida,




For Additional Information Contact: 
Sara Lalk - Forest Health Research Operations Manager 
Phone: (919) 707-3743