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12 Natural Way to Get Rid of Gypsy Moths

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14 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Gypsy Moths

During an outbreak, gypsy moth caterpillars will feed on many different trees and shrubs [1].

The caterpillars can also wreak havoc on other plants and become an annoyance in your yard. However, there are many natural and eco-friendly remedies to help control them.

Here’s how to get rid of gypsy moths naturally:

1. Yard Clean Up

Begin with a good yard clean-up, disposing of any dead branches. Also, clear away twigs and cut back tree stumps.

Adult female moths lay their eggs in this kind of debris, so keeping a clean yard will help prevent an infestation.

The eggs are laid in masses and can contain hundreds of eggs [2]. You may spot these during the clean-up process.

2. Spinosad

This commercial spray works on the nervous systems of certain insects. It causes paralysis, killing them in 1 to 2 days.

Spinosad is safe to use in the organic garden, but it is toxic to bees. Therefore, follow the package instructions on how to properly apply.

3. Soap and Water

A little soap and water is a great home remedy for many pest problems.

Once you’ve spotted these caterpillars, make up a bucket of dish soap and water. Next, put on some gardening gloves and collect the caterpillars and egg masses that you see on trees.

Throw them (eggs and all) into the soapy water. The solution will suffocate them and kill them.

You can also make a DIY gypsy moth caterpillar spray by combining 5 tablespoons of dish soap with a gallon of water.

Spray this homemade soapy water solution directly on the critters. The caterpillars that are completely soaked in the solution will eventually die.

4. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

Bt will kill caterpillars when they ingest it. However, the product should be applied according to the label instructions.

You’ll likely achieve the best results by spraying when caterpillars are young. Spray Bt in the cool of the evening to avoid direct sunlight, as it degrades in the sun. Apply once you spot the caterpillars.

It may also require repeat applications, but expect to see results after a couple of weeks. BT is slow-acting but effective.

5. Scrape Off Egg Masses

Gypsy moth egg masses are covered in hair. Therefore, wear gloves to scrape them off the fuzzy eggs, as the hairs can be irritating.

Also, avoid scraping egg masses onto the ground, where they may survive. Instead, put them in a container of soapy water to soak for about two days. Dispose of them after.

6. Horticultural Oil

You can also use horticultural oil for gypsy moth eggs, especially if the egg masses are hard to reach.

Purchase this as a ready-to-use spray and apply it according to the instructions that come with the product.

Horticultural oil is a multi-use product for dealing with a host of pest problems. Use a bottle sprayer to apply it to the infested area.

However, ensure that you spray properly, even in crevices. The spray needs to make direct contact with the moth eggs to be effective.

7. Scentry Gypsy Moth Trap & Lures

Adult moths are not the cause of the defoliation of trees. But these traps can help limit the breeding stage and reduce egg production.

The traps are baited with pheromone lures for the best result. These traps and lures have been produced, especially to help control the gypsy moth population.

Follow the instructions that come with your purchase on how to assemble. Hang them in the trees when the pests are active.

8. Molt-X

This product is an effective knock-down spray. It contains 3% azadirachtin, a chemical compound derived from the seed of the neem tree.

Molt-X is not neem oil, so it doesn’t have fungicidal properties. However, its triple action slows insect feeding, disrupts molting, and acts as an insect repellent.

You can use it as a foliar spray or for drenching the soil around potted plants and trees. Moreover, it will not leave a residue on flowers or leaves.

Molt-X is also suitable for indoor, greenhouse, or outdoor use.

9. Bug Buster-O

Another effective knockdown spray, this natural pesticide contains pyrethrins.

Therefore, Bug Buster-O is safe to use on almost any plant—vegetables, fruit trees, herbs, flowers, and ornamentals.

Follow the instructions that come with your purchase on how to use it.

10. Trichogramma Wasps

Using beneficial insects as part of an organic pest control system is an increasingly popular way of dealing with pest problems.

Trichogramma wasps are small wasps that parasitize moth eggs. They lay inside the eggs of these pests. When the Trichogramma egg hatches, the larva feeds on the host egg, killing it.

You can purchase these moth egg parasites from various suppliers and release them according to package instructions.

Moreover, these parasitic wasps control other pests, including cutworms, borers, and armyworms.

11. Birds

This is another natural gypsy moth control method—and an attractive one.

Some birds will eat any larvae found while feasting on seeds. So, planting attractive plants like sunflowers can help bring birds to the garden.

Additionally, set up a bird feeder on the lawn. This may bring orioles, black-billed cuckoos, blue jays, and chickadees to enjoy a feast of unwanted moth larvae.

A water fountain can also help bring the birds to the feast.

12. Cover Woodpiles

In the summer and fall, woodpiles that are normally used as firewood in the winter are attractive places for female spongy moths to lay egg masses.

Therefore, covering woodpiles with tarpaulin or something similar will help keep away these pests.

13. Vinegar

Vinegar can be used to control many pests and insects that threaten plants. These caterpillars will die within hours of coming into contact with vinegar.

Therefore, make a spray by adding 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water and a few drops of dish soap. This spray works well on caterpillars as well as other pests.

14. Neem Oil

Another remedy worth considering is neem oil. You can use it to kill and repel all kinds of pests. It can be purchased as a concentrate and used to coat plants, pests, and their eggs.


Gypsy moths (spongy moths) were accidentally released in North America in 1869 [2]. Since then, they have spread and infested many areas of the United States.

Healthy trees can withstand a season of damage. However, take precautions and apply the natural treatments above to prevent a gypsy moth infestation.

Image via Wikimedia

Sasha Brown

Sasha Brown is a blogger and lover of all things natural.


  • EXCELLENT! Thank you. All but the Spinosad. I have found that people will take the quick way and think that the bees will not suffer.
    But it is in the arsenal against gypsy moths.

    I am promoting bee population by encouraging the growth of snowdrops (or are they bells). Two weeks ago, the snowdrops were attracting bees. In this weather! In NJ.

    I am glad that this is your dilemma and not mine. All the best.

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