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Local

Spraying scheduled next week to combat gypsy moths in Ogle County

The Illinois Department of Agriculture will be spraying 21,214 acres in Ogle County for gypsy moths, starting Monday or Wednesday, weather permitting.

According to the department:

Low-flying helicopters will spray 6,254 acres with BtK (Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki), a naturally occurring bacteria used by gardeners as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical pesticides that is not harmful to vertebrates.

The flights will begin in the early morning. If it rains, the flights will be delayed, but only until the weather clears. Two applications within 10 days are required to get the job done, so the second application will be done in early June.

Spraying also is being done in LaSalle, Will, Kendall, Peoria and Putnam counties; when it will begin in Ogle County depends on how the spraying goes elsewhere, as well as on the weather.

The rest of the acreage will receive an aerial application in late June of the pheromone Splat GM-Organic, a sexual attractant that confuses male gypsy moths and prevents them from breeding. It's an organic, biodegradable material made entirely of food-grade materials, and it doesn't affect other insects, mammals, vertebrates or the environment.

The gypsy moth is an invasive species that feasts on more than 250 species of trees and shrubs, but its preferred food source is oak leaves. Large populations are capable of stripping plants bare, leaving them vulnerable to secondary insect and disease attacks. Severe defoliation also can kill the tree.

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.

Go to www.agr.state.il.us for a map of the areas to be treated. Call the Department of Ag's DeKalb office at 815-787-5476 for more information on the treatment schedule.

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