PSA: Spongy moth caterpillars are back with their rashes and poop showers (yep!)

Formerly known as gypsy moth caterpillars, these insects infested wooded areas of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes last year and it looks like they’re back in action in 2022. Here’s everything you need to know.

two young girls roasting marshmallows with their dad in a forest

If you’ve secured a coveted summer campsite and can’t wait to hit the forest with the fam, be aware that spongy moth caterpillars (scientific name lymnatria dispar dispar, or LDD, and formerly known as gypsy moth caterpillars) might have other plans for you. These icky insects, which were popping up on practically every tree in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes in 2021, seem to be back at it this summer—and we quickly learned last year that they don’t say on the trees. Families shared horror stories of the bugs raining down on them while outdoors, and others said caterpillar poop has landed in campsite meals (which then went in the trash). These pesky crawlers also pillage healthy trees of their beautiful leaves and can leave nasty rashes on human skin.

So what’s the deal with these things? Are they here to stay and ruin the rest of our summer plans? How can parents keep themselves and their kids protected? We chatted with Chris Darling, Senior Curator of Entomology at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and Toronto paediatrician Dina Kulik, last summer to get the full breakdown on our newest annoyance: spongy moth caterpillars.

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