Gypsy moth

The gypsy moth Lymantria dispar is one of the most important pest insects of forests and orchards. It infests many tree and shrub species and feeds on hundreds of species but prefers oak, lime, poplar and birch.

What are the symptoms of the damage caused by gypsy moth?

Gypsy moth feeds on leaves, leading to the defoliation of trees. Defoliated trees are stressed, leaving them susceptible to other pests and diseases. This damage repeated over a number of years can result in reduced growth and death of trees. Even one year’s defoliation may kill conifers.
Gypsy moth occurs in many types of forest and urban landscape on mainland Europe. This pest occurs in the form of outbreaks causing damage in up to thousands of hectares. In European forests, climate change is expected to affect the distribution of tree species because conditions under which species grow well will shift northwards and higher up in elevation. Range extension of pest and disease species may also be promoted by increasing temperatures. Outbreaks of gypsy moth are predicted to become more common in the North and at higher altitudes.

What are the economic consequences of gypsy moth?

This pest causes losses in forests and urban trees in different climatic zones.

How can gypsy moth be controlled?

Pest and disease management in forestry differs in a number of respects from that in agricultural crops. This includes the often large scale and long rotation time, which means that crops are subjected to many different pests and pathogens at different stages in the cropping cycle. Moreover, the choice of methods to be used may be influenced by the increasing use of forests for recreation and amenity, and the need to conserve threatened or ecologically important species. Use of viruses against defoliating insects, nematodes against subterranean stages of insects, and microbial agents for suppression of root diseases in young trees are amongst the more promising target areas. Use of biological insecticides is a recommended pest control measure. Despite a significant threat to trees by the gypsy moth, no bio-preparation has so far been developed in Europe.


Stands of oak, gypsy moth’s preferred species, are often located in Natura 2000 areas or they are under partial protection, where the use of chemical insecticides is prohibited. The gypsy moth also attacks roadside trees, whose chemical protection is banned under EU law.

BIOCOMES biological control agent

There are no chemical products registered for gypsy moth control in Europe. The development of a biological formulation based on virus characterized by high pathogenicity for the host, will provide effective protection of forests threatened by the gypsy moth.
From the pathogen complex of the gypsy moth, viruses from the Baculoviridae family show the greatest potential for use as biological control agents (BCA) for the reduction of gypsy moth populations. In natural conditions this pathogen causes mass diseases of gypsy moth leading to the collapse of pest outbreaks.

Slideshare presentation about gypsy moth part 1.
Slideshare presentation about gypsy moth part 2.

Photo: Gypsy moth caterpillar. Picture: IBL, Poland.

Iwona Skrzecz
Iwona Skrzecz
Gypsy moth

Biological Control Agents

At the end of the project a virus-based formulation showing high efficiency in the reduction of gypsy moth population occurring on deciduous trees will be ready.

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Current stage of the Biological Control Agent


Month 18: Standard operation procedure for virus production (small scale) and quality control (laboratory tests)
Month 36: Results of efficacy of LdMNPV against Lymantria dispar in field trials
Month 48: Standard operation procedure for large scale virus production and report on efficacy of LdMNPV against L. dispar in field trials


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