Gypsy Moth caterpillars
Gypsy Moth caterpillars

The gypsy moth is a relatively new pest to North America and Illinois. In the 1860’s a French scientist brought the gypsy moth to the United States in the hopes of breeding it with silk moths. Because the two moths are not in the same insect family, creating a new breed was impossible. Unfortunately the gypsy moth was then introduced in North American habitats. Jumping to present time, the gypsy moth has been responsible for over 75 million acres of defoliated trees in the United States. The gypsy moth is not a discriminating eater. While it has favorites, such as Oak trees, the gypsy moth feeds on over 500 different tree and plant species. The gypsy moth has a strong presence in Illinois and also from North Carolina to the upper peninsula of Michigan.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture partnered with the Slow the Spread Foundation in 2013 and treated five areas in northern Illinois counties that have experienced gypsy moth destruction. The Slow the Spread Foundation is a national program designed to slow down the progress of the gypsy moth using integrated pest management techniques.

In the summer of 2013 small airplanes dropped flakes containing gypsy moth pheromones in parts of five northern Illinois counties. Acres of wooded land in DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Will and Winnebago counties were treated for gypsy moth infestation. Local communities affected include Naperville, Warrenville, Lisle, Bolingbrook and many others. The flakes contained gypsy moth pheromones, which attract the male gypsy moth, hopefully preventing them from successfully mating with female gypsy moths. The flakes are completely non-toxic and pesticide free. Click here to read more about the program.

Although it may be too soon to tell, hopefully the program was a success. Have a gypsy moth sighting or story? Leave a comment!

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