SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Three additional northern Illinois counties have been placed under quarantine to control the spread of the gypsy moth.
Cook, DuPage and McHenry counties were added to the quarantine today, the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced, joining Lake County, where the quarantine was first established in 2000.
“The gypsy moth population in these counties has reached a level where restrictions on the movement of nursery stock, wood products and outdoor items are necessary to protect other areas of the state from this destructive pest,” Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs Warren Goetsch said. “These counties remain eligible for participation in the gypsy moth control program, and the department will continue to treat these areas when warranted.”
The gypsy moth is a non-native pest that feasts on trees and shrubs. Large populations are capable of stripping plants bare, leaving them susceptible to disease. Unlike the emerald ash borer, another non-native pest that feeds exclusively on ash trees, the gypsy moth is not a finicky eater. It will devour almost anything leafy and green, but especially likes oak, hickory and willow trees.
Under the quarantine, all nursery and lumber products must be inspected or certified before they can be transported out of the four counties. In addition, residents of these counties must personally inspect vehicles, tents, outdoor lawn furniture, bicycles and other outdoor items for gypsy moth egg masses, live moths and caterpillars before taking them from the quarantine area.
Anyone convicted of illegally removing prohibited items from the quarantine area may be fined up to $500, and the items themselves must be either immediately removed from the non-infested area or destroyed.
The full text of the quarantine order is posted on the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s website at www.agr.state.il.us. Questions should be directed to the department’s DeKalb office at 815-787-5476.
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.
The department plans to treat more than 7,300 acres for the pest this year, including one site in Cook County and four in DuPage. Each site will receive an application of either BTK, a naturally-occurring bacteria used as an environmentally-friendly alternative to chemical pesticides, or pheromone, a sexual attractant that confuses male gypsy moths and prevents them from breeding. The BTK will be applied by helicopter in late May to 2,701 acres. A fixed-wing airplane will apply pheromone to 4,613 acres in late June.