Illinois’ weapon in the fight against invasive gypsy moth: fake sex pheromones. Planned spraying in DuPage canned goods | Chicago News

A spongy moth caterpillar. (Feliciano Moya López / Pixabay)

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will spray to control the invasive gypsy moth (Lymantria disparformerly known as gypsy moth) in late June at several locations in northeastern Illinois, including Waterfall Glen, Des Plaines Riverway, Hidden Lake and Wood Ridge, officials said.

The treatment, using what is called a ‘pheromone mating disruptor’, will be applied by a low-flying aircraft, making several passes. Officials said the treatment was not harmful to people, pets, other wildlife, plants, cars or structures. Signs will be posted on processing days, which are expected to be June 27 and 28.

The gypsy moth has migrated west, with northeast Illinois at the forefront of the management zone to contain the pest. Butterfly caterpillars are voracious foliage eaters, showing a preference for oak trees. During large epidemics, trees can be completely stripped of their leaves in a few days. These weakened trees are more susceptible to other diseases and other pests, which affects their chances of survival, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Mating disruption is the most commonly used treatment to control the spread of gypsy moth.

Here’s how it works: synthetic sex pheromones are applied in waxy droplets, and the overload overwhelms the males, who become confused. They think females are everywhere and can’t find one to mate with; no mating equals no offspring. The treatment only affects the gypsy moth, not other species of moths or butterflies, according to officials.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]

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