Low-flying planes in Minneapolis? They're just spraying for gypsy moths

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture

If you saw a low-flying plane in your neighborhood in Minneapolis this morning, do not be alarmed. It is just the Minnesota Department of Agriculture trying to fight an invasive species. 

Officials are treating a portion of the Lowry Hill and Kenwood neighborhoods to eradicate a gypsy moth infestation detected last year. To eradicate the moths, planes will spray an EPA-approved bacterium called Baccillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki over the affected area. 

The first of the three treatments started around 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday. The planes will fly over the same area five to seven days apart. The treatment product has no known health effects for humans, but MDA says residents may wish to stay inside during the treatment and keep windows closed until half an hour after it the application. 

Gypsy moths are a destructive tree pest that if present in large numbers, gypsy moths caterpillars can defoliate large sections of the forest. People can unintentionally spread gypsy moths by transporting firewood or other items on which the moths have laid their eggs. 

A resident noticed the caterpillars last spring and called MDA. MDA staff found thousands of gypsy moth caterpillars had already started defoliating trees in the neighborhood. Officials said it was one of the worst gypsy moth infestations they had ever seen. 

Residents can call the Arrest the Pest Info Line at 1-888-5454-MOTH or visit the MDA website for more information about the treatment dates, times and locations.