Gypsy Moth

  • Gypsy Moth (female)
    Gypsy Moth (female)
  • Gypsy Moth (male)
    Gypsy Moth (male)
  • Gypsy Moth (female)
    Gypsy Moth (female)
  • Gypsy Moth (male)
    Gypsy Moth (male)

Scientific name: Lymantria dispar

July to August. Few sites in southern England. A large moth, the male is brown with feathery antennae. The female is larger than the male and creamy-white with darker, wavy lines. Found in woodlands, plantations, parks and gardens.

The female is superficially similar to the Black Arches but the latter species is smaller with the female Gypsy Moth having a thickset and blunt abdomen.  The male resembles the darker form of the Black Arches but is again smaller than the Gypsy Moth with blacker colouration.

The adult males fly during the day but the females do not fly and apparently rarely travels far from the cocoon. The males also fly after dark. The caterpillars can be found from April to late June after they have overwintered as eggs. The young caterpillars are dispersed by the wind and can be acrried for several miles.

Size and Family

  • Family – Tussocks (Lymantirds)
  • Large Sized 
  • Wingspan range 40-70mm

Conservation Status

  • UK BAP: Not listed
  • Immigrant and former resident

Caterpillar Food Plants

The extinct English race fed on Bog-myrtle (Myrica gale) and Creeping Willow (Salix repens). On mainland Europe it feeds on a wide variety of broadleaved trees and bushes.


Formerly frequent in the fens of East Anglia and occurs in a wide variety of habitats in mainland Europe.


  • Countries – England
  • This moth was presumed extinct in Britain in the early 1900s when breeding sites were cleared and drained.  Occasional records, mainly from coastal southern England, since then are regarded as immigrants. However, it has become temporairily established in a very few areas, these all thought to be accidental introductions. The species is still frequent on Jersey, although confined to small areas, and it is an occasional immigrant on Guernsey.