Where did the gypsy moth come from?

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Question: Where did the gypsy moth come from?

Answer: Gypsy moths are native to temperate areas of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Those in North America have mainly originated from Europe.

They first arrived in North America in 1869, brought by Leopold Trouvelot of Massachusetts. He hoped to crossbreed the gypsy moth and the silkworm moth in order to create a hardy silkworm for the silk industry in the United States. In the late 1860s, some of his gypsy moth larvae got away and found a predator-free paradise in New England.

In later years, accidental introductions of both European and Asian types have occurred. Now, gypsy moths can be found in the northeastern United States and parts of the Southeast and Midwest, as well as in isolated areas of the West. They have also spread to areas of eastern Canada. In a “lean” year, gypsy moths defoliate more than 2 million acres of forest in the Northeast.