What should you do if gypsy moths are detected in your neighborhood? The first thing you can do is search for other life stages of the moth.
Searches are best conducted after the moths have completed their life cycle in late September or October. Gypsy moths lay smallish, golden yellow, tan or brown egg masses. They often have a rough surface from the "fur" of the mother moth that she deposits on the outside to protect them. The egg masses can be located anywhere - on the bark of trees, in cracks or crevices, under the eaves or between the shingles on houses, or even in wheel wells or protected areas of vehicles and trailers. It takes a very thorough search to uncover an egg mass, especially in small infestations where there may only be one or two. You may also find pupa cases for the moths. The following pictures illustrate a typical egg mass and pupa case. The actual sizes are less than an inch in length for each.
After Finding Egg Cases or Pupae...
The WSDA (Washington State Dept. of Agriculture) would like to know what you found so that they can pinpoint the location of the infestation. This may ultimately reduce the area that is sprayed (unless you are unfortunate enough to have found an Asian gypsy moth egg mass). The WSDA would like you to not disturb what you found and contact them ASAP.
However, by finding an egg mass or pupa, you will have triggered an automatic response from the WSDA to spray the immediate area with pesticides. Consider that, if the infestation is small, you may have discovered all the egg masses, and that by destroying them you will eliminate the infestation without spraying. This is risking that the infestation might spread the following year if you don't find all the egg masses, or that the WSDA will eventually decide to spray a larger area if moths continue to be trapped in following years.
Educate yourself on what will happen if your area is sprayed with pesticides for gypsy moth. No Spray Zone maintains a diary on our home page with news about sprayed areas. We have extensive information on our web site about the pesticides used, what the problems with them are, what alternatives might be available, and why they are not being used. Write to your legislators and ask why, if there are reasonable alternatives, are you being targeted for a pesticide spraying.