spongy moth


plural spongy moths
: an Old World tussock moth (Lymantria dispar) that was introduced about 1869 into the U.S., that has a grayish-brown hairy caterpillar which is a destructive defoliator of many trees, and that has a flightless adult female which lays eggs in a spongelike ovoid egg mass covered in yellowish-brown hairs

Note: The mature caterpillar of the spongy moth has two distinctive rows of five blue dots followed by six red dots on the back.

Note: This insect was formerly known as the gypsy moth but was officially renamed by the Entomological Society of America in March 2022 due to the offensiveness of the historical name.

Examples of spongy moth in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The spongy moth is native to parts of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Claire Reid, Journal Sentinel, 2 Aug. 2023 Moth caterpillars at outbreak levels can strip millions of trees of their leaves in the height of the growing season, but these outbreaks are sporadic or cyclic; most years spongy moths are sparse and do no visible damage. Richard S. Ostfeld, STAT, 31 July 2023 One of the biggest sources of stress and damage is defoliation of oaks and other trees by the spongy moth (formerly called the gypsy moth). Richard S. Ostfeld, STAT, 31 July 2023 Avoiding pesticide use in home landscapes is of critical importance, though communities that are subjected to aerial forest sprays for spongy moth or other pests may unfortunately experience population declines, even though such treatments are relatively targeted. Miri Talabac, Baltimore Sun, 18 July 2023 Spongy moth The spongy moth poses a major threat to Kentucky's forests, with an appetite for hundreds of different tree and shrub species, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Connor Giffin, The Courier-Journal, 5 June 2023 The fungus can also build up in high spongy moth populations, but its spread is facilitated by wet spring conditions. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 14 June 2023 Officials advise looking out for the spongy moth in its caterpillar or adult moth form. Connor Giffin, The Courier-Journal, 5 June 2023 The spongy moth is 'devastating' forests across U.S. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 31 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spongy moth.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

2022, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of spongy moth was in 2022

Dictionary Entries Near spongy moth

Cite this Entry

“Spongy moth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spongy%20moth. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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