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It’s June. Especially if you have oak trees you’ll find gypsy moth caterpillars to be quite ubiquitous this time of year.

You’ve definitely seen them: two-inch caterpillars with long dark hairs and pairs of red and blue spots running along their backs. When they emerge from their cocoons later in the summer they turn into brown (male) and white (female) moths, who only live for a few days to mate and lay eggs prior to passing on to bug heaven.

Unbeknownst to many, these pesky critters are not native to the Pennsylvania landscape but were introduced to New England from Europe by a well-intentioned but misguided naturalist in 1869. They’ve since slowly spread across the eastern U.S. and Canada.

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