After 10 to 15 years a gypsy moth that was once "accidentally" released has returned and is causing "nightmares" in New York thanks to "higher-than-usual" sightings. Check out the photos below to learn more about it:

Gypsy Moth 'Accidentally' Released Causing 'Nightmares' in New York

After 10 to 15 years a gypsy moth that was once "accidentally" released has returned and is causing "nightmares" in New York. 

The DEC confirmed they have received reports of "higher-than-usual" gypsy moth populations and leaf damage in several parts of New York State this June.

The gypsy moth insect is from France. According to the DEC, they were "accidentally" introduced in 1869 when they were brought to the U.S. in the hope that they could breed with silkworms to create a hardier variety of silkworms and develop a silk industry across the United States.

This attempt failed and some moths escaped and established their first U.S. population.

In New York, gypsy moth caterpillars are known to feed on the leaves of a large variety of trees such as oak, maple, apple, crabapple, hickory, basswood, aspen, willow, birch, pine, spruce, hemlock, and more. Oak is their preferred species, the DEC reports.

Caterpillars from the gypsy moth have been spotted dining on leaves in New York and showering its excrement onto yards, the New York Post reports.

“My kids and I were hiking in Lockport last week. There were hundreds of them falling out of the trees and right onto our clothes,” Michell Lane Martin wrote in the comment section of a DEC photo about gypsy moths. “You couldn’t even walk without stepping on them. It was the stuff that nightmares are made of!!”

The caterpillars are about 2.2 inches in length. They have five pairs of raised blue spots followed by six pairs of raised red spots along their back. The hairs on their backs can cause mild to moderate skin irritation in some people, the DEC reports.

When outbreaks occur thousands of acres of trees can be damaged. Tree death can occur when other stresses such as disease or other insect outbreaks attack trees in the same year.

Gypsy moths are non-native but are naturalized, meaning they will always be around in our forests. Their populations spike in numbers roughly every 10-15 years but these outbreaks are usually ended by natural causes such as disease and predators, officials say.

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