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Low-flying plane early Friday around Hokah will be spraying for gypsy moths

Rick Solem

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HOKAH, Minn. — An early morning, low-flying plane Friday around Hokah in Houston County could startle some, but the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) says don’t be alarmed.

The MDA is spraying to eradicate gypsy moth infestations that were detected last fall around Hokah and also around Oak Center, Minn., in Wabasha County.

Gypsy Moth Trapping_Bens.jpg
The European gypsy moth, like the one in this undated photo, is non-native to the United States.
(Photo: AP )

The flights could start as early as 5:25 a.m., beginning in Hokah, depending on weather.

The treatment is approximately 1,620 acres and is 1.5 miles west of Hokah. Union Ridge Road runs through the middle of the treatment area.

Gypsy moth caterpillar
Gypsy moth caterpillar

This will be the first of two, what the MDA calls, “aerial applications of Foray/Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk)” over those areas.

The second will take place 5-10 days later.

Btk is a biological product that is organic certified for food crops. It has no known health effects for humans, pets, birds, fish, livestock, bees or other non-caterpillar insects.

The MDA also set up an information line to keep citizens informed, called the Arrest the Pest Info Line (1-888-545-MOTH). On the morning of the treatments, residents can call the phone number with any questions they may have. Simply press 0 (zero) to speak to someone. More info can be found at the MDA website here.

The MDA offers the following tips to residents in the treatment area:

  • For the gypsy moth treatment to work, it must begin early in the morning. Treatments may begin as early as 5:25 a.m. Residents in and around these treatment areas, up to a half mile outside of the treatment area, may be awakened on that day by the noise of a low-flying airplane. The MDA apologizes for any inconvenience.
  • The treatment product has no known health effects for humans, but residents may wish to stay indoors during the treatment and keep windows closed for a half hour after application. Residents can cover gardens or turn on sprinklers during the treatment if they wish.
  • The residue does not cause damage to outdoor surfaces. However, soapy water will remove any residue on outdoor items.

Treatment areas:

Hokah, Houston County: The treatment area is approximately 1,620 acres and is 1.5 miles west of Hokah. Union Ridge Road runs through the middle of the proposed treatment area (SEE MAP).

Oak Center, Wabasha County: The treatment area is approximately 1,420 acres and is located approximately three miles north of Zumbrota Falls. US Highway 63 runs through the middle of the area (SEE MAP).

According to the MDA, “gypsy moths are among America’s most destructive tree pests, having caused millions of dollars in damage to Eastern forests. The moths are now threatening Minnesota. If present in large numbers, gypsy moth caterpillars can defoliate large sections of forest. Oak, poplar, birch and willow are among their preferred hosts. The moths spread slowly on their own, but people can unintentionally help them spread by transporting firewood or other items on which the moths have laid their eggs.”

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM and "liberal hack" | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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