Lymantria dispar

Gypsy moth
Mounted Lymantria dispar dispar male
Mounted Lymantria dispar dispar female
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Erebidae
Genus: Lymantria
Species: L. dispar
Binomial name
Lymantria dispar
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Phalaena dispar Linnaeus, 1758
  • Ocneria dispar (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Porthetria dispar (Linnaeus, 1758)
A Lymantria dispar caterpillar

Lymantria dispar, the gypsy moth, are moths in the family Erebidae. Lymantria dispar covers many subspecies, subspecies identification such as L. d. dispar or L. d. japonica leaves no ambiguity in identification. Lymantria dispar subspecies have a range which covers in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and South America.


Common name Subspecies Distribution Identifying characteristics
North American gypsy moth Lymantria dispar dispar Eastern North America[1]:6 Females winged but flightless[1]:6
European gypsy moth Lymantria dispar dispar Europe, western Asia and north Africa[1]:6 Females winged but flightless[1]:6
Asian gypsy moth Lymantria dispar asiatica Eastern Asia,[1]:6 western North America[2] Flying females; attracted to lights[1]:6
Japanese gypsy moth Lymantria dispar japonica All of Japan[1]:6 Large males, very dark brown color[1]:6

The European gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) is native to temperate forests in western Europe. It had been introduced to Canada in 1912 and in the United States in 1869.

The Asian gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar asiatica) is native to southern Europe, northern Africa, Asia and Pacific. It is spreading to northern Europe (Germany, and other countries), where it hybridized with the European gypsy moth. A colony had been reported from Great Britain in 1995.

This moth is an important defoliator on broad-leaf and conifer trees.[3]


The order Lepidoptera contains moths and butterflies characterized by having a complete metamorphosis; larvae transform to pupae and then metamorphosing into adult moths or butterflies.[4]:9 The family is Lymantriidae.[4]:9 Lymantriid larvae are commonly called tussock moths because of the tufts of hair on larvae.[4]:9

The meaning of the name Lymantria dispar is composed of two Latin-derived words. Lymantria means 'destroyer'.[5] The word dispar is derived from the Latin word that means 'to separate' and it depicts the differing characteristics between the sexes.[4]:9

The North American gypsy moth and the European gypsy moth are of the same species, often listed as Lymantria dispar dispar.[1]:6 Confusion over the species and subspecies, for classification still exists. The U. S. Department of Agriculture defines the Asian gypsy moth as "any biotype of Lymantria dispar possessing female flight capability",[1]:5 despite Lymantria dispar asiatica not being the only classified subspecies that is capable of flight.[1]:6 Traditionally, Lymantria dispar has been referred to as "gypsy moths" even when referring to Japanese, Indian and Asiatic gypsy moths.[1]:5


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pogue, Michael. "A review of selected species of Lymantria Huber [1819]" (PDF). Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  2. "Asian Gypsy Moth Lymantria dispar asiatica". Pest Tracker National Agricultural Pest Information System. Retrieved September 14, 2012.
  3. FAO - Profiles of selected forest pests
  4. 1 2 3 4 The Gypsy Moth: Research Toward Integrated Pest Management, United States Department of Agriculture, 1981
  5. Free Dictionary for Lymantria
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