An area of Minneapolis that's been quarantined since July will be sprayed with insecticide starting this month to rid it of the invasive gypsy moth.
Lowry Hill and parts of the Kenwood neighborhood were placed in quarantine last summer, preventing branches or wood material pruned or which fell from trees and shrubs from being removed from the area.
It follows the discovery of what Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) officials said was one of the worst gypsy moth infestations it's ever seen, with thousands of the caterpillars found defoliating trees.
Now the MDA is pushing ahead with a treatment plan for the affected area (see map below) that will involve the application of an organic, biological insecticide dropped from a small airplane.
MDA officials told Bring Me The News that the insecticide is toxic to gypsy moths, but has a "proven safety record" with people, pets, birds, fish, livestock and other insects.
The first spraying will happen some time between May 15-30, with the date depending on the weather, and after that it will be applied two more times 5-7 days after the previous one.
The MDA notes that gypsy moths are among the country's "most destructive tree pests," causing millions of dollars of damage to forests as they spread from New England west to Wisconsin.
They're not establishing themselves in Minnesota, though over the past few years the MDA has successfully treated several infestations including in Richfield, Minneapolis, Grand Portage and Anoka and Houston counties.
"These successful treatments help postpone the full-scale invasion of gypsy moth, saving local communities and homeowners money and protecting the health of the state’s urban and natural forests," a spokesman said.
The moth was first brought to the U.S. in 1869 as part of a "failed attempt to start a silkworm industry," with GypsyMoth.com describing it as an "experiment gone horribly wrong."