How did gypsy moths get to the U.S?
Gypsy moth larvae are very mobile. They also have a voracious and devastating appetite. Gypsy moth larvae have the potential to defoliate more than 2 million acres of Northeastern U.S. forests per year. In 1869, a Massachusetts naturalist imported gypsy moths from France, hoping to cross them with the American silk moth and create a hardy thread-making caterpillar. Not only did his experiment fail, but disaster resulted when some of the moths escaped. Each generation of offspring, floating in the breeze on tiny sails of spun silk and body hairs, can be carried further than 20 miles away.