Gypsy Moth Information

Outbreak Prevention
Last year, the Village of Itasca conducted 2 aerial sprayings of a pesticide known as BTK to fight a serious outbreak of gypsy moths in the southwest portion of Itasca. While the sprayings ultimately did help reduce the numbers, follow-up surveys showed that significant numbers of gypsy moths are still present in the area. The Village has determined that 1 additional year of sprayings will be done this year.

Weather permitting, the Village of Itasca will begin its 2010 Gypsy Moth treatment program in early May.

At daybreak, a helicopter from Clarke Mosquito Control is scheduled to apply BTK to 140 acres. The work should take less than a day to complete. Each site also will receive a second application 10 days later.

The treatment program has been timed to coincide with the emergence of the destructive gypsy moth caterpillar. However, specific application dates could be affected by wind and rain.
Notice for Residents Within Spray Zone
All those within the spray zone are being notified by letter of the spraying plan. While a general range of dates will be given for the sprayings, exact dates cannot be predicted. For spraying to be most effective, weather conditions need to be appropriate. There need to be a certain number of days at a certain minimum temperature, wind speeds need to be low and there needs to be little to no chance of rain during the treatment period. Because these factors cannot be predicted with accuracy very far in the future, it will not be possible to give specific spray dates and times more than a few days in advance.

If you wish to be notified of the specific times and dates of the sprayings, please send your contact information to Mr. Fred Maier. You will be placed on a notification list and we will provide you with as much advance notice as is practicable.
A map displaying the targeted spray area
What is BTK?
BTK, or Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki, is a naturally occurring bacterium commonly found in soil. It has been used safely in the United States as an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical pesticides for more than 40 years. It is non-toxic to humans, other mammals, birds, fish and most insects, including ladybugs and honeybees.

Gypsy moths feast on the foliage of trees and shrubs. Large populations are capable of stripping plants bare of leaves. The moth obtained its name because the female cannot fly, and typically lays her eggs on objects near where she is feeding, including campers, trailers, grills and backpacks. When these items are moved, the eggs ride along like a nomadic gypsy.

Gypsy Moth Identification

Egg Masses

Egg masses appear as 1.5 inch (4 centimeters) tan or buff-colored hairs on tree trunks, outdoor furniture or the sides buildings.


Gypsy moth caterpillars change appearance as they grow. Young caterpillars are black or brown and about ¼ inch (0.6 centimeters) in length. As they grow, bumps develop along their backs along with coarse, black hairs. Each of the 11 sections of a developed caterpillar will have 2 colored spots, the first 5 pairs blue, and the last 6 red. Mature caterpillars can be as long as 2 ½ inches (6.35 centimeters).


Gypsy moths are seen only in mid-summer. Males are grayish brown and can fly; females are larger, whitish with black marks and cannot fly.