ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Seeing low-flying planes buzzing in the sky over Rockford Tuesday morning?

Those planes are part of the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s effort to control the Spongy Moth population by spraying a pheromone to prevent the insects from breeding.

According to the IDOA, Lymantria dispar, aka Spongy Moth, is a non-native pest that feasts on more than 250 species of trees and shrubs, but its preferred food source is oak leaves. Large populations are capable of stripping plants bare, leaving them vulnerable to secondary insect and disease attacks. Severe defoliation also can cause tree death.

The pheromone, Splat GM-Organic, serves as a sexual attractant that confuses male spongy moths and prevents them from breeding. This is an aerial application with yellow ‘Air – tractor’ airplanes. The product used is an organic, biodegradable product made entirely of food grade materials. It is not harmful to humans or pets.

Areas to be treated are Will, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Winnebago, Stephenson, and Jo Daviess. A total of 32,783 acres will be sprayed. Maps of the specific areas can be found on the Slow the Spread website https://www.slowthespread.org/pages/illinois-outreach