MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Low-flying planes plan to spray for gypsy moth caterpillars in five southern and western Wisconsin counties this week.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says spraying is scheduled in Grant, Crawford, Iowa, Richland and La Crosse counties Wednesday through Friday.
All remaining sites will be sprayed with pheromone treatments. The spraying does not affect organic certification.
Pheromone flakes are mating disruptors. The flakes are tiny – about the size of a grain of rice. They are flat and green. The sticky flakes are applied at a rate of one to two flakes per square foot of tree canopy.
The pheromone flakes do not kill or harm gypsy moths. They prevent reproduction by tricking adult male moths. In nature, male gypsy moths fly, while female moths cannot. In order to find each other and reproduce, females release a pheromone for the males to track and follow. The flakes also release this pheromone. The male moths track and follow a false trail and finding no female, no reproduction occurs. The pheromone is undetectable to other insects.
Maps of spray sites are available at http://gypsymoth.wi.gov. Information is also available at 1-800-642-6684.
Spraying can start as early as sunrise and state officials warn the single-engine applicator planes are loud. The spraying is done to kill the caterpillars, which are invasive pests and can feed on the leaves of many species of trees and shrubs.