Low-flying yellow planes will frequent parts of western Wisconsin later this month, part of aerial treatments for the invasive gypsy moth.
Crawford, Douglas, Dunn, Grant, Iowa, La Crosse, Rusk, Trempealeau and Vernon counties will all receive the treatment, which will be applied in the early mornings beginning in late June and into mid-July.
The planes will specifically distribute an “organic, biodegradable mating disruptor,” which will target adult male moths rather than the caterpillars targeted in treatments this spring.
Gypsy moths have been present in the region for several years, and cause damage to tree and plant foliage, with the potential of killing trees. Airborne ristles from the skin shed by their caterpillars can also cause irritation to the eyes, skin and respiratory systems in humans.
The treatment is a joint effort between the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protections and the U.S. Forest Service, and the treatment poses no health risks to humans, and no adverse effects have been reported.
“Female gypsy moths do not fly. They give off a pheromone, or chemical scent, which attracts male moths,” Christopher Foelker, the DATCP gypsy moth program manager, said in a statement. “The organic product we apply to the tree canopy emits the same scent, so the male moths cannot find the females. These treatments are highly effective at reducing the mating success of this insect, without causing harm to humans, animals, birds or other insects.”
Times and dates of treatments will depend on weather.