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Two Forest Preserves to Receive Moth Pheromones by Air This June

If you see a yellow, fixed-wing aircraft that appears to be spraying something on your forest preserve this June, it’s part of a statewide effort to impede the spread of a tree-killing pest.

This product does not pose a risk to humans, animals, non-target organisms or the environment. During June 2012, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has scheduled two select areas within the Forest Preserve District of Cook County for an aerial application to eliminate European Gypsy Moth (EGM): Tinley Preserve in Tinley Park and Country Club Hills, IL, and the block including Lansing, Jurgensen, Zander, Brownell and Sweet Woods in Thornton and Glenwood, IL. Weather permitting, a yellow, fixed-wing aircraft will apply 6 grams (about ¼ cup) per acre of the biological product Disrupt II. This could occur on just about any day of the week.

The gypsy moth is an invasive species from Europe. It is one the most damaging forest and tree pests in the United States and has become permanently established in Illinois.  This treatment is part of a statewide program to prevent the gypsy moth from establishing itself outside of the northeast corner of Illinois. The Department of Agriculture is also attempting to reduce the impact of its invasion from other states.

The European gypsy moth defoliates multiple species of trees with the huge numbers of caterpillars that result from an infestation. After a few years (1-3) of having its leaves completely stripped-off, a tree may die. Also, the caterpillars are a tremendous nuisance, as they may render your yard nearly unusable from mid-June to early July.

Disrupt II is the chemically copied female pheromone of the EGM. By saturating the area with pheromone, males in lightly infested areas are not able to find the females, hence mating is prevented.  Small, green plastic flakes are impregnated with the pheromone, a Post-it-type glue is added, and then the flakes are aerially released. Again, this product does not pose a risk to humans, animals, non-target organisms or the environment.

For questions, contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s DeKalb Office at (815) 787-5476. Note that the Department’s Gypsy Moth Specialists will be in the field with the spray team during the spray program.