Gypsy moth egg masses can be found on trees, logs, leaves, fences, stone walls, tents, under windowsills and the eaves of houses and on cars, recreational vehicles and boat-haulers, among other places.
The egg masses are brownish-yellow or tan in color, about the size of a half-dollar, and look like a small piece of a chamois cloth. Newly hatched caterpillars are about one-eighth of an inch long. The adult caterpillar, two to three inches long, is dark gray, hairy, multi-legged and has a double row of five blue dots and six red dots on its back.
The egg masses should be scraped off and soaked in Clorox, alcohol or ammonia, or burned. The caterpillars also can be caught by wrapping a burlap strip around the tree to provide a cool, damp and shady resting spot during the day. They can then be plucked off with tweezers and destroyed in a jar of alcohol. They also can be snarred with flypaper. Effective chemical pesticides include Dipel, Thuricide and Bactur. The insecticide Sevin is hazardous to bees and should be used only at night.
For more information or to request an inspection for gypsy moth egg masses, Fairfax County residents should contact Ralph Donnell, the county's gypsy moth control supervisor, at 691-3431. Other Northern Virginians should contact Rusty Wendt, a state agriculture department inspector, at the same number.