Asian Gypsy Moth - Vessel Inspection Guide


The Gypsy Moth is a highly destructive forest pest which can enter the United States by laying eggs on vessels and/or cargo while in foreign ports. The females may fly and lay eggs between May 15 and October 15, and can literally cover a vessel during that time.


One officer/specialist (an average of 2-hours/inspection). Document results of Gypsy Moth inspection on Ship Inspection Form 288.

Inspectional Equipment:

  1. Binoculars - to look at unreachable areas of the ship.
  2. Flashlight - to look in darkened areas such as between containers.
  3. Mirror on a stick - to look under vehicles, around confined corners, etc.
  4. Vials - to collect adults, larvae or egg masses.
  5. Knife, paint scraper, or putty knife - to scrape the eggs from the structure.

High-Risk Ships:

Ships originating in or transiting Europe, China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Turkey and the Mediterranean may have been exposed to Gypsy Moths. It is unlikely you will find a live adult Gypsy Moth on these vessels, but you may find egg masses. 

Where to Look:

  • Egg masses are normally deposited in sheltered locations such as in crevices or cavities, under tarps, behind walls and doors, and underneath the hold rims.
  • Binoculars may allow you to see unreachable areas of the ship
  • Female Gypsy Moths are attracted to light; therefore, the female moths could lay their egg masses on surfaces of the ship that are exposed to lights. However, if the ship was lit with shore-based flood lights while in a high risk port, egg masses could be found in all locations.
  • Look for evidence of fresh paint covering scrapes on walls or painted over egg masses.
  • Viable egg masses on ships may be weathered, darkened, and appear old. Look for hatching larvae that may be blowing on silk strands from the ship. Peak hatching of eggs is in the morning. Larvae move toward vertical structures and climb rapidly.

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