Don't Be Alarmed by Gypsy Moth Spraying Over Montgomery, Geneva

Don’t Be Alarmed by Gypsy Moth Spraying Over Montgomery, Geneva

If you see planes flying over Montgomery or Geneva early Monday, June 30, don’t panic. It’s the state Department of Agriculture spraying for the dreaded Gypsy Moth.

Apparently, the planes can be noisy, and they start dropping small pheromone flakes at the crack of dawn. The state of Illinois doesn’t always get a lot of calls of complaint, but they like to spread the word as early and often as possible to make sure residents have a heads up.

If there’s rain in the forecast, the pheromone spraying can be delayed, so don’t be surprised if you see low-flying planes on just about any day next week.

Why does the Illinois Department of Agriculture do the spraying?

“Since the caterpillars’ feeding period lasts seven to 10 weeks through spring and summer, they can do a lot of damage to young tree leaves. If a tree loses more than 50 percent of its leaves for more than two years in a row, it will certainly be weakened and may not survive,” the Illinois Department of Agriculture website says.

“A single gypsy moth caterpillar can consume 11 square feet of vegetation during its lifetime so the presence of millions of caterpillars can severely affect trees and forests,” the website says. “During large outbreaks, trees are virtually stripped of their leaves by hungry caterpillars within a few days.”

Embedded in this article is a YouTube video that shows the spraying process.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture underlines that the flakes are about the size of a grain of sand and harmless to humans and animals.

The spraying is part of an integrated pest-management strategy. The Illinois Department of Agriculture along with the STS Foundation places more than 7,000 traps to monitor populations each year.  Each year the monitoring is tabulated and eradication treatments are decided for the following year.

The gypsy moth is migrating west, and it has established itself in Illinois. Lake County was quarantined in 2000. The counties of Mc Henry Cook and Du Page were added in 2007. A quarantine requires all nursery stock and firewood being shipped out of the affected counties to be inspected and certified, a difficult and time-consuming procedure. All nurseries and nursery dealers are also required to treat their property and/or stock, and persons leaving quarantined counties have to have all of their outdoor equipment inspected.

If you see a gypsy moth in any stage of life, call this number toll free: 1-866-296-MOTH (6684).


Maps of Spraying Areas