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SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Agriculture plans to begin treating parts of northern Illinois for the destructive Gypsy Moth the week of May 11, weather permitting.  Each year, the Department works with the United States Forest Service on a two-pronged approach to treating this destructive pest.
The gypsy moth is a non-native pest that feasts on more than 250 species of trees and shrubs, but its preferred food source is oak leaves.  Large populations are capable of stripping plants bare, leaving them vulnerable to secondary insect and disease attacks.  Severe defoliation also can cause tree death.

The first round of treatments will take place in parts of DuPage, Ogle, and Will Counties (Table 1).  The treatment area will cover approximately 1,442 acres.  The infested sites will be treated with an application of BtK (Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki Organic), a naturally occurring bacteria used by gardeners as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical pesticides.  This is an aerial application that will be spread by low-flying helicopters starting in the early morning hours.  It’s important to note that BtK has an excellent safety record and is not harmful to humans or pets.  However, during these unforeseen times, cautious residents concerned about exposure are recommended to remain indoors until the aircraft is no longer visible overhead.  A second application will be applied within the following two-weeks, again weather pending.

Other locations, identified below in Table 2, will receive a pheromone application in late June.   The treatments will take place in parts of JoDaviess, Kendall, Ogle and Will Counites and will cover an area of approximately 24,684 acres.  The pheromone, Splat GM-Organic, serves as a sexual attractant that confuses male gypsy moths and prevents them from breeding.   This, too, is an aerial application with yellow ‘Air – tractor’ airplanes.  The product used is an organic, biodegradable product made entirely of food grade materials.  It also is not harmful to humans or pets.

Maps of the treatment sites are posted on the Department’s website at  A list of the impacted sites and their scheduled treatments follows:

Table 1.  Proposed Treatments for Gypsy Moths in Illinois May 2020
1013IL_DuPage_1Lisle/Morton ArboretumBTK
1442Total acres to be sprayed  
Table 2.  Proposed Treatments for Gypsy Moths in Illinois June 2020
9340IL_Ogle_2OregonMating Disruption
2694IL_JoDaviess_1Galena TerritoryMating Disruption
325IL_Kendall_1PlainfieldMating Disruption
1145IL_WIll_2RomeovilleMating Disruption
1786IL_Will_3Joliet/LockportMating Disruption
9394IL_Will_4Joliet/New LenoxMating Disruption
24684Total acres to be sprayed  

Male gypsy moths are brown with black markings and have a wingspan of an inch-and-a-half.  Female gypsy moths are slightly larger and typically white or cream-colored.  The females cannot fly because of the weight of their eggs. Unlike the emerald ash borer, another non-native pest which feeds exclusively on ash trees, the gypsy moth is not a picky eater.  It will devour almost anything leafy and green.

Anyone with questions regarding the gypsy moth treatment schedule or the quarantine order are urged to contact the Department of Agriculture’s DeKalb field office at (815) 787-5476.


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