VICTORIA -- The B.C. government will be releasing aerial spray treatments to control gypsy moth populations on Vancouver Island later this month.

Up to four aerial-spray treatments are slated to take place between Reinnson Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway, north of Courtenay, beginning next week.

The 187-hectare area is believed to be home to gypsy moths, which are "destructive to native and urban forests, as well as orchards," according to the province.

"If these pests are not treated, they could spread to other parts of the province and put hundreds of species of trees and shrubs at risk, including in endangered Garry oak ecosystems," said the Ministry of Forests in a release Wednesday.

The province plans to use a spray containing Foray 48B to treat the area. The insecticide contains Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk), which naturally occurs in soil, according to the province.

Canada approved the use of Btk to treat gypsy moths in 1961, and Foray 48B was certified for use again in April 2018 by the Organic Materials Review Institute of Canada, says the B.C. government.

The insecticide will be sprayed by a low-flying aircraft shortly after sunrise and should be completed by 8:30 a.m. beginning in the week of May 10, depending on the weather.

Up to four treatment will be needed to complete the treatment, according to the province. Each treatment will take place seven to 10 days apart, weather permitting.

While Foray 48B is not harmful to humans, plants, livestock, pets, or other animals, the province says pets that may be frightened of low-flying aircraft should be brought indoors or secured when the treatment is taking place.

"Anyone wishing to minimize contact with the spray may choose to remain indoors with their windows and doors closed during the treatments, and for at least 30 minutes after the flight has been completed," says the province.