Arial spraying for gypsy moth caterpillars

Aerial spraying targeting gypsy moths is expected to begin soon in western Wisconsin.

The state’s never-ending attack against the invasive gypsy moth will resume in a couple of weeks in Wisconsin.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced on Wednesday that 16 counties, mostly in western Wisconsin, will be sprayed in mid-May or early June, and then again in late June or early July.

The annual spraying is an attempt to control the spread of the gypsy moth, an insect that defoliates many trees and plants during their caterpillar stage, which stresses the trees and can cause the trees to die.

“These aerial treatments are the most efficient and effective method to delay the impacts associated with gypsy moth outbreaks,” said Christopher Foelker, gypsy moth program manager.

The spraying can begin as early as sunrise, with low-flying yellow-colored planes going just above the tree tops, continuing into the late morning or afternoon. The spraying will also happen on weekends.

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The 16 counties in this year’s plan include Barron, Buffalo, Burnett, Chippewa, Crawford, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Iowa, Grant, Green, La Crosse, Lafayette, Pepin, Vernon and Washburn counties.

The first round of spraying will be using a soil bacteria known as Btk to kill gypsy moth caterpillars. Btk is not toxic to people, pets, bees or other animals, but those with severe allergies might want to stay inside when spraying is going on.

Later in the summer, planes will use an organic, biodegradable mating disruptor containing gypsy moth pheromone, targeting adult male moths, inhibiting their ability to find female moths.

The two sprayings are in different areas in each county, so residents will have to put up with the loud, low-flying planes only once.

Maps showing the specific spray areas are at datcpgis.wi.gov/maps/?viewer=gm.

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