429 - 09/05 - Asian Gypsy Moth - Australia

Currently in the high risk season for Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM), the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) have advised of three recent detections of AGM egg masses on vessels from Russian Far East ports. AQIS require all vessels visiting Australia that have been in Russian Far East ports between 40°N and 60°N in the past two years during any period between July and September to present the appropriate AGM certification.

Vessels that are considered high risk will be inspected although random check inspections of vessels with a Certificate of Freedom from Gypsy Moth are made to verify the accuracy and effectiveness of cleaning. High-risk vessels are not granted quarantine clearance until the vessel has been inspected and cleared of AGM, if applicable.

AGM, detailed below, is an exotic pest to Australia which, if became established, could devastate forests causing major environmental and economic damage.

Scientific name

: Lymantria Dispar (Linnaeus)

Common Names

: Asian Gypsy Moth (AGM), Gypsy Moth (2 strains), European Gypsy Moth (EGM) - a strain.

Identifying Marks:




§ 80-1200 eggs in a mass, which is covered with yellow scales (from the females body).

§ Egg masses average about 40mm long by 20mm wide and can remain viable for months.


§ Instars (larval stage) are highly variable in colour.

§ Covered by tufts of long toxic hairs.

§ 2 rows of large spots on back – 5 pairs of blue / 6 pairs of red (head to rear).


§ Colouration.

- Females are white; black marks.

- Males are grey-brown.

§ Wingspan in females is 40-70mm; in males is 30-40mm.


Widespread in Europe and North-Eastern Asia and introduced into North America.

Host Range


AGM will feed on over 600 plant species including oak, birch, aspen, eucalyptus, holly, pine, rose, fruit trees and urban ornamental plants.

Likely Mode of Entry:

Egg masses on ships, containers and cargo. Larvae can wind-disperse.


Egg masses, rather than adults or larvae, are likely to be encountered (laid under lights at ports etc).


Suspected egg masses should be reported to the AQIS Quarantine Entomologist immediately. The egg mass must be secured immediately to prevent dispersal.

Other states and countries such as New Zealand, Canada and America also have regulations concerning vessels that have visited Russian Far East ports in the high risk season - more information can be found on the Encyclopaedia accessible from the Loss Prevention section of the Club website.

Source of information:

Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service



Staff Author