If You See this Moth Villain in Illinois, Squish It Immediately
I am normally not in favor of doing away with nature's creatures. In this case, I'll make an exception. It's a villainous moth and if you see it in Illinois, you really should squish it immediately.
The moth in question is the Spongy Moth also known by some as the Gypsy Moth. The USDA has issued a warning that this species is under a federal quarantine. They are being spotted in Illinois and they are a danger to trees and shrubs which other species rely on.
This is what this moth looks like although I am not pleased this photo is alarmingly up-close.
Here's what the USDA says about this dreaded moth:
The caterpillars defoliate trees, leaving trees vulnerable to diseases and other pests and can eventually kill the tree. Egg masses, which have a spongy or hair-like covering, survive through the winter months and can be moved inadvertently on household items and agricultural products. Early detection is critical to limiting the spongy moth's spread.
In other words, see it, do away with it. Simple.
How do you easily identify this moth in Illinois? The USDA says in the caterpillar stage they "develop a mottled yellow to gray pattern with tufts of bristle-like hairs and a distinctive color pattern of five pairs of blue dots followed by six pairs of red dots along their backs." Once in adult form they have "a darker brown pattern on their wings and have a 1-1/2-inch wingspan. Females are slightly larger, with a two-inch wingspan, and nearly white with dark saw-toothed patterns on their wings."
Good idea to check out the USDA site if you think you might have spotted these moths as they are definitely trouble waiting to happen.