Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) Caterpillar
I hiked in my favorite forest in northwestern CT today. It's a dense, mesic forest in the highlands, which is part of the Berkshires.
Today, the forest looked quite different. Most of the trees were defoliated, or in the process of becoming so. It was so uncharacteristically bright and hot in the woods, and all I could hear was the sound of caterpillar frass (poop) falling from the trees. There were gypsy moth caterpillars everywhere I looked - hardwood trees, low vegetation, conifers, on the ground, rocks, etc. They were everywhere. I hope the forest and its creatures can survive this devastation.
What it usually looks like:
I scraped as many egg masses off trees in this forest last autumn as I could. Here is a photo of a mass of dead moths that I took last fall- the females die after laying their eggs. I found hundreds of them:
Habitat: Mixed, mesic forest
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.