(WFRV) – No, that is not an alarm clock. Rather it is a loud, low-flying plane that Wisconsin is using to stop an invasive insect from causing damage to trees.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced that they plan to use low-flying planes to treat the invasive spongy moth caterpillars.

According to officials, some residents can expect to see and hear loud, low-flying planes as early as sunrise. These planes will be small and yellow.

The planes will reportedly focus on the western part of Wisconsin. The spongy moth, formerly known as the gypsy moth, is described as causing trees stress and possibly death.

“DATCP will be conducting aerial treatments, which are the most efficient and effective method to delay the impacts associated with spongy moth outbreaks. Where this insect is established, it has been a periodic public nuisance and damaging forestry pest,” says Christopher Foelker, DATCP Spongy Moth Program Manager.

17 counties in western Wisconsin will be treated, and they include:

  • Barron
  • Bayfield
  • Buffalo
  • Burnett
  • Chippewa
  • Crawford
  • Dunn
  • Eau Claire
  • Grant
  • La Crosse
  • Lafayette
  • Pepin
  • Rusk
  • Sawyer
  • Trempealeau
  • Vernon
  • Washburn

Treatments in southern Wisconsin are planned to start in early to mid-May and will end in northern Wisconsin in mid-July. Officials say that the spray will be Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk). Btk is described as a naturally-occurring soil bacteria that kills spongy moth caterpillars.

Btk is reportedly not toxic to people, bees, pets or other animals. However, those with severe allergies may want to stay inside during treatment applications.

More information can be found on the DATCP’s website.