The invasive spongy moth and its caterpillars can decimate a garden. Here’s how to fight back.
Until this year, the only spongy moths I had encountered were the winged adults — the occasional males I counted in nighttime surveys every July, during the citizen-science events of National Moth Week.
I knew part of the moth’s story, beginning with its accidental release in Massachusetts around 1869. I had seen maps of how this European species, Lymantria dispar, had slowly spread to at least 20 Eastern and Midwestern states, as well as five Canadian provinces, becoming a serious forest pest. And I knew that the moth had a preference for oak trees, although it had been recorded feeding on several hundred tree and shrub species.
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