Spongy moth (Lymantria dispar) [formerly known as “gypsy moth”] caterpillars can eat leaves from most trees and shrubs in North America. It does, however, prefer some species to others and there are a few trees it won’t touch even when starving. Remember that spongy moth caterpillars feed in May and June. If you notice trees being defoliated at other times of the year it is likely something else that is feeding on them.
Feeding preferences of spongy moth caterpillars on Wisconsin host plants
|Favorite foods||Acceptable meals||Won’t touch|
apple and crabapple
pine (older caterpillars)
spruce (older caterpillars)
black and yellow birch
|green, white, and black ash