The Russian gypsy moth larvae are polyphagous and feed on 13 to 20 families of primarilly deciduous trees. These families include the Fagaceae (oaks and beeches), Salicaceae (willows), Rosaceae (fruit trees), Betulaceae (birches), Juglanaceae (hickories and walnuts), Oleceae (ashes) and a number of tropical families of trees.
In its native range, the Russian gypsy moth is a defoliator of valuable forest tree species, such as oaks. Other species in the genus Lymantria have had significant impacts on forest health and the Russian gypsy moth is likely to do so in North America. However, the relative lack of literature on the Russian gypsy moth outbreaks makes accurate assessment of its potential economic impact difficult. Both male and female adults are capable of flying and could disperse over distances of several km either on their own or assisted by air currents. Early instar larvae are also subject to dispersal by air currents. This insect has a high reproductive potential and during outbreaks, females tend to lay eggs indiscriminately on a variety of sites including ships and products destined for export. Egg masses of the Russian gypsy moth have been found on ships arriving in North America from the Russian Far East.
If successfully introduced, this insect has the potential to spread over the full range of its potential hosts in North America. Early detection would be difficult unless specific surveys are conducted. Defoliation caused by this insect could be easily confused with that of native broadleaf defoliators or the already established gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar.
The Russian gypsy moth is not known to occur in Indiana.