September 25, 2023

New Name, Same Problem

Introducing the Spongy Moth
By Jillian Manning | March 12, 2022

One of northern Michigan’s peskiest, pestiest insects is now operating under a new name. Introducing the Spongy Moth, previously known as the European Gypsy Moth. Why the change? According to a statement from the Department of Natural Resources, the name switch was made by the Entomological Society of America “because it contained a derogatory term for Romani people. The move is part of the society’s Better Common Names Project.” Although it has a new and improved moniker, the moth remains a danger to tree populations up north, especially oaks and aspens. Spongy Moth caterpillars hatch in April and feed through June, defoliating trees in their wake. Here’s what you can do to stop the spread: keep an eye out for black, hairy caterpillars that turn a mottled yellow/gray with a distinctive red and blue dot pattern; report any egg masses or hatchings to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network; and be sure to check for Spongy Moths before moving firewood, outdoor recreation gear, and outdoor furniture.


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