Help prevent the spread
of gypsy moth eggs
Gypsy moth caterpillars ate the leaves off this tree near the Fermilab Fire Department.
The gypsy moth is migrating west, and this year seems to be a particularly active year for the leaf-eating insect in Northeastern Illinois. West Chicago and Warrenville have reported trees defoliated by gypsy moth caterpillars. Fermilab Roads and Grounds have spotted oak trees hit by the insect, too.
"Oaks are their preferred food," said Mike Becker, head of Roads and Grounds. "The trees typically don't die when they are defoliated one year. But they can if they lose their leaves two or three years in a row."
Becker consulted with the U.S. Forest Service and the DuPage County Forest Preserve District. According to the forest preserve district, the gypsy moth has affected many trees in the area, but no trees have been lost. To slow down the spread of the gypsy moth, the Illinois Department of Agriculture placed Cook, DuPage and McHenry counties under quarantine in April 2007. Lake County has been under quarantine since 2000. Under the quarantine, residents of these counties must inspect vehicles, tents, lawn furniture, bicycles and other outdoor items for gypsy moth egg masses, live moths and caterpillars before taking them from the quarantine area. Nursery and lumber products must be inspected or certified before they can be transported out of these counties.
The IDA Web site states: "Because of the weight of their eggs, female moths cannot fly. So, they typically lay their eggs on objects near the trees where they're feeding, including picnic tables, campers, and grills. When these items are moved, the moth eggs 'hitchhike' along like a wandering gypsy."
Although it is too late in the year to treat for gypsy moth infestation, there are precautions you can take to protect your trees at home. For prevention tips and how to recognize the gypsy moth, check out this Web site.
If you see a gypsy moth in any stage of life, call the IDA toll free at 1-866-296-6684. If you see the moth at Fermilab, call Roads and Grounds at x3303.
-- Kurt Riesselmann
A gypsy moth caterpillar