Per the Greensboro News & Record:

“Their favorite host is oak trees, but they’ll eat hundreds of types of plants,” said Chris Elder, the state’s gypsy moth program manager. “The caterpillars come out in vast numbers and eat the leaves. They’ll completely defoliate the trees.”

Trees can use stored energy to replace their leaves, but if the foliage continues to be destroyed, the trees will die. Trees stripped bare can leave “entire forests more susceptible to attacks from other pests,” according to a release from the state.

“In heavily infested areas, caterpillars may crawl on driveways, sidewalks, outdoor furniture, into homes, or end up in swimming pools. … Some people can have allergic reactions to the caterpillars’ tiny hairs if inhaled.”

Gypsy moths are found in North Carolina mainly near the Virgina border. The N.C. Department of Agriculture will hold a meeting in Eden on Thursday on its plans to deal with two infested areas in Rockingham County.