- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Department of Agriculture is holding a series of meetings to discuss plans to fight the leaf-eating gypsy moth in northern Illinois.

The moths are particularly destructive to oak trees, but will feast on more than 250 species of trees and shrubs. Large populations can strip plants bare, potentially leading to tree death.

Agriculture Department officials plan to apply naturally occurring bacteria across thousands of acres beginning in mid-May to prevent male moths from breeding. The bacteria will be applied via helicopter or airplane near LaSalle, Plano, Wilmington, Yorkville and Starved Rock State Park.

The state says it’s considered safe but people may want to stay indoors for 30 minutes after it’s applied.

The public is invited to learn more during open houses in Pontiac, Oglesby, Oswego and Freeport.

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