The European Gypsy Moths have been destroying hardwoods in the U.S. since the 19th century.
The moth was introduced to the U.S. from Europe in 1868 in an effort to breed a better silk worm. Soon thereafter, some of the gypsy moths escaped from the lab as a result of a series of accidents. Since no one yet realized the destructiveness of this pest, no efforts were made to kill the escaped moths.
They have been spreading outward from the eastern United States sine then. The gypsy moth is now known through the entire northeastern US, south into North Carolina and west into Wisconsin with occasional outbreaks in other states.
Arkansas has had occasional confirmed reports of gypsy moth, most recently in the summer of 2012.
The gypsy moth can cause defoliation that can impact the appearance of ornamental trees. It can also stress forests and make them vulnerable to other pests.
Officials with the Arkansas Agriculture department are working with the USDA this year, as in the past, to track and trap the moths.
It seems to be working. Officials in Arkansas say only one gypsy moth was found there last year.