The Gypsy Moth goes through 4 stages of life and looks different in each. It starts as an velvety-tan egg mass, laid by the adult female in mid-August. The larvae inside grow until winter, then hibernate until mid-May when the eggs hatch. The second stage is called the pupae stage. At this point the insect looks like a worm or caterpillar. It is black with red spots and covered with long, pointy hairs. The larvae eat almost any plant in sight, destroying tree leaves, garden flowers, vegetable plants, and grasses. As the larvae grow, they shed their skin and grow a bigger one.
After spending the spring as a larva, the insect grows a reddish-brown kind of shell and attaches itself to a tree with a silk thread. This is called the pupa stage. When it comes out, it will be an adult gypsy moth. Adult males are about 1 1/2 inches long with long brown wings and large antennae. The wings will sometimes have black stripes on them. Females are about the same size but are white with black marks. After laying the eggs, the adults will die.
The gypsy moth orignally came from Europe and North Africa. It was brought to the USA by a scientist in about 1865. But they escaped from his home in Massachusetts and quickly spread throughout the country.