The B.C. Forest Ministry is planning an aerial spray treatment this spring in Courtenay in an effort to eradicate a gypsy moth population.
The spray will cover 187 hectares around Highway 19A, between Rennison Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway, where trapping and monitoring results reveal a moth population is establishing. The treatment area includes 94 hectares that was sprayed in 2018.
“Those spray programs were probably effective in reducing those establishing gypsy moth populations, however it didn’t completely eradicate them, and that’s probably why we’re back this year,” Babita Bains, provincial forest entomologist, said in a Jan. 12 presentation to the Comox Valley Regional District board. “Or there’s the other possibility that there’s been repeated introductions from the same source.”
She said the European gypsy moth is commonly transported into B.C. from out east where it has established. It can spread when household items are transported. If untreated, the insect can seriously damage forests, farms, orchards and urban trees.
If the population is not eradicated, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency might need to quarantine the infested area, and inspect goods leaving the area. Export restrictions could also be imposed by the U.S.
The active ingredient of the spray is a bacteria (Btk) found in soil. It only affects the larvae of moths and butterflies that are feeding at the time of the spray. Humans, pets, birds, bees and plants are not affected.
FMI: gov.bc.ca/gypsymoth or call 1-866-917-5999.