Monday, August 18, 2008

Des Plaines braces for gypsy moths

From the Des Plaines Times
August 15, 2008


While Asian longhorned beetles and emerald ash borers are invading neighboring communities, gypsy moths are worrying Des Plaines.

"Gypsy moths are knocking at our door," said John Henry, Des Plaines' arborist. "They are really dangerous to hardwood trees when they are leaf-eating caterpillars, and they have been attacking mostly the oak trees in the Cook County Forest Preserves, as well as trees in nearby residents' yards."

No one has reported an Asian longhorned beetle in Des Plaines. They had not been seen in Illinois for five years but were recently discovered in Deerfield. No one in Des Plaines has reported an emerald ash borer, which was confirmed in Oak Park, which is good news, he added.

"It is still a hellacious situation," Henry said. "The moths can be controlled by spraying with BT (bacillus thuringiensis) from a helicopter, but nine out of 10 residents don't want their properties -- including lawns, garden furniture and playground equipment -- sprayed with chemicals. And it is very costly."

Dutch elm disease also continues to attack between 50 to 100 trees in Des Plaines each year, but the destruction is less noticeable because the city's remaining elms are so scattered, he said.

And Japanese beetles, which can defoliate trees, also account for some of the city's tree loss, because the insects didn't die out during last winter, he added.

Henry does have 600 trees slated to replace some of the more than 1,000 trees lost throughout the community because of last August's severe storms. But tree loss is a never-ending situation, Henry said.

"There are 70,000 trees just on the city's parkways, not counting those in the forest preserves or on park district land. So we work solely on complaints," he said. "And it is a bug's world. You can hit them, slap them, swat them and spray them, but they will be here long after we are gone."


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