The B.C. government plans to conduct aerial-spray treatments north of Courtenay to prevent gypsy moth populations from becoming established and to minimize the risk they pose to forests, farms, orchards and trees.
The first treatment is scheduled for the week of May 10, 2021, depending on weather conditions. The 187-hectare treatment area is located around Highway 19A, between Rennison Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway.
The gypsy moth is destructive to native and urban forests, as well as orchards. 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.
Up to four separate aerial treatments are required between mid-May and mid-June, occurring seven to 10 days apart. The application will be conducted by a small, low-flying aircraft. Each treatment will start shortly after sunrise and should be completed by 8:30 a.m., unless delayed by poor weather. Each treatment is expected to take one morning to complete.
The affected area will be treated with Foray 48B, which contains Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk). Btk is a biological insecticide that occurs naturally in soil and has been approved for the control of gypsy moth larvae in Canada since 1961. Foray 48B and other Btk formulations were certified for use on organic farms by the Organic Materials Review Institute of Canada in April 2018.
Btk is effective in eradicating gypsy moths since it only impacts caterpillars that eat sprayed leaves. It affects the caterpillars only after they have ingested it. It does not harm humans, livestock, plants, pets, other mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, spiders, bees, ladybugs or other insects.
Residents within and adjacent to the treatment area will likely hear the aircraft carrying out the treatment. The spray equipment is GPS-calibrated and carefully controlled.
Poor weather or windy conditions may result in the treatments being postponed with little advance notice. Any postponed treatment will resume on the next suitable morning.
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.
Pets or livestock that may be frightened by the low-flying aircraft should be secured or brought indoors.
For gypsy moth program updates, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/gypsymoth
Subscribe to the gypsy moth news page for email updates: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/managing-our-forest-resources/forest-health/invasive-forest-pests/gypsy-moth/news
Call the gypsy moth 24-hour information line: 1 866 917-5999
For health information at any time of day or night, call HealthLinkBC at 811. This service is toll-free and available in more than 30 languages. HealthLinkBC services for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired are available by calling 711 for TTY or 604 215-5101 for video relay service.
Health information related to gypsy moth spraying is available in eight languages online: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/gypsy-moth-spraying
Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for Island Health, discusses gypsy moth spray treatment programs in 2017: https://youtu.be/FzTSmsxkJtc