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Low Risk Trees and Shrubs
The Gypsy Moth is one of the most destructive insect pests threatening the forest trees and ornamental plants in Ohio. The caterpillar stage of this insect damages trees and shrubs by feeding on the foliage. Once defoliated, the natural response of the trees and shrubs is to refoliate with a second set of leaves. This process depletes food reserves and weakens the plants. Repeated defoliation will result in death of the trees and shrubs. The Gypsy Moth will feed on over 300 species of plants making it a serious pest problem in many urban landscapes.
 
The Gypsy Moth caterpillars have preferences for certain trees and shrubs on which to feed. Homeowners culturing trees and shrubs preferred by the caterpillars should anticipate some level of feeding and the associated damage, provided a local infestation is present. Homeowners should take the plant preferences into consideration when planning for plant replacements or future landscape plantings.
 
Preferred Trees – Highly Susceptible to Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Feeding
Alder Eastern Hophornbeam Paper (White) Birch
American Oak (all species) Gray Birch Pine (all species)
Apple Hawthorn Quaking Aspen
Basswood Hazelnut River Birch
Bigtooth Aspen Larch (Tamarack) Serviceberry
Box Elder Maple Lombardy Poplar Spruce (all species)
Chestnut Mountain Ash Sumac (all species)
Eastern Hemlock    
 
Some trees and shrubs are not the first choice of feeding by the Gypsy Moth caterpillars. These plants are only at risk from defoliation if the local infestation is very high or the more preferred food sources have been depleted.
 
Moderately Preferred Trees – Moderately Susceptible to Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Feeding
American Beech Eastern Cottonwood Redbud
American Elm Hackberry Sassafras
American Hornbeam Hickory (all species) Silver Poplar
Black Birch Norway Maple Slippery Elm
Black Cherry Ohio Buckeye Sourwood
Black Gum (Tupelo) Paw Paw Sugar Maple
Black Walnut Pear Sweet fern
Blueberries Persimmon Yellow Birch
Butternut Pin, Choke Cherries Yellow Buckeye
Cucumber tree Red Maple  
 
A variety of tree and shrubs are not likely to be attacked by the feeding caterpillars. Essentially all other food sources in the area must be depleted before caterpillars are found on these plants. Feeding injury on the following trees should not be anticipated and would be good selections for planting establishment in areas with the potential for heavy local infestations of the Gypsy Moth.
 
Least Preferred Trees – Low Susceptibility to Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Feeding
American Holly Greenbrier Rhododendron
Ash (all species) Honey Locust Rubus (all species)
Azalea (all species) Grape Sarsaparilla
Baldcypress Juniper Sheep Laurel
Balsam Fir Kentucky Coffee tree Spicebush
Black Locust Horse Chestnut Striped Maple
Dogwood Mountain Maple Sycamore
Eastern Redcedar Mulberry Viburnum (all species)
Elderberry Mountain Laurel Yellow-poplar (Tulip tree)
Fraser Fir Northern Catalpa  
 
In addition to plant selection, homeowners can take a number of steps to further reduce the likelihood that the plantings in their landscape will be damaged from Gypsy Moth caterpillar feeding. A few of these practices include:
  • Keeping the landscape trees and shrubs in a healthy condition
  • Planting a wide diversity of tree and shrub species, particularly favoring the species least preferred by the Gypsy Moth caterpillars.
  • Physically removing the caterpillars under burlap bands, tangle foot, etc.
  • Destroying egg masses found on trees, outbuildings, woodpiles, etc.
  • Implementing the use of control products (i.e. pesticides) when necessary.