Aerial sprying for gypsy moth begins this month north of Courtenay

  • May. 6, 2018 6:00 a.m.

The first aerial-spraying treatment to eradicate invasive gypsy moths from residential and farm land about four kilometres north of Courtenay, along Highway 19A (Old Island Highway), will occur Monday, May 14, 2018, weather permitting.

Three separate sets of treatments are required this spring. Spraying will be carried out by a fixed-wing aircraft. It will start shortly after sunrise (5:20 a.m.) and will be completed by 7:30 a.m. daily.

Unless delayed by poor weather, each treatment is expected to take one morning to apply. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is aiming to have the spraying completed by mid-June.

Tim Ebata, forest health officer for the ministry, said this is the only area of the Comox Valley that has been affected by gypsy moths, and will be the only local area to be sprayed.

The 94-hectare spray area will be treated with Foray 48B, which contains Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk), an ingredient that has been approved for the control of gypsy moth larvae in Canada since 1961.

Foray 48B, and other Btk formulations, received certification for acceptable use on certified organic farms by the Organic Materials Review Institute of Canada in April 2018.

Btk is naturally present in urban, forest and agricultural soil throughout the province. It does not harm humans, mammals, birds, fish, plants, reptiles, amphibians, bees or other insects, and affects caterpillars only after they have ingested it.

The spray will be applied by a low-flying plane. Residents immediately next to the treatment area are likely to hear the aircraft at some point during the treatment. The spray equipment is GPS-calibrated and controlled, and spraying will occur only when the plane is immediately over the treatment area.

Poor weather or wind may cause treatments to be postponed with little advance notice. The Province will issue bulletins 24 hours before each treatment, and will provide up-to-date information at 1-866-917-5999, and online at: www.gov.bc.ca/gypsymoth

The telephone line will be staffed during business hours and will provide up-to-date spray schedules and recorded information, 24 hours a day. Social media will be used to update the public on current spray operations. Follow #Gypsymoth on Twitter for these updates.

Anyone wishing to minimize contact with the spray material may choose to remain indoors with their windows and doors closed during the spraying, and for at least 30 minutes after. Pets and livestock that may be frightened by the aircraft should be brought indoors. Items not to be sprayed can be covered or moved indoors.

According to Ebata, gypsy moths are not native to the West Coast, and are likely brought here unwittingly by travellers.

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