The spongy moth, Lymantria dispar, (formerly known as gypsy moth) is one of North America’s most devastating invasive forest pests. The species originally evolved in Europe and Asia and has existed there for thousands of years. In the late 1860s, the spongy moth was accidentally introduced near Boston, MA by an amateur entomologist. Since then, spongy moths have spread throughout the Northeast and into parts of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes states including Indiana.

The spongy moth is known to feed on the foliage of hundreds of species of trees and shrubs in North America but prefers oak trees. When spongy moth populations reach high levels, trees may be completely defoliated by feeding caterpillars. Several successive years of defoliation, along with contributions by other stress factors, often result in tree death. The spongy moth can be an expensive, messy problem for homeowners and, when out of control, can cause extensive damage to U.S. forests.

A portion of Marshall County is being sprayed by planes that are home-based at Plymouth Airport.  Bill Sheley, Manager of the airport said, “We are going to have 8 aircraft coming in on a government contract.  There will be 5 turbine ag planes that will be doing gypsy moth or spongy moth spraying.  There are 60,000 acres in Marshall County yet to spray.”   There are also 3 Cessna 172s to fly cover above the ag airplanes to make sure no one is getting in their way when they are working.