The Ministry of Forests will conduct aerial-spray treatments in the Courtenay area in spring 2023 to eradicate spongy moths and minimize the risk they pose to forests, farms, orchards and trees.
Trapping results from 2022 show clear evidence that spongy moth populations are becoming established in treatment areas. The treatment area for Dove Creek is 652 hectares and for Courtenay is 331 hectares.
The Ministry of Forests was issued a Pesticide Use Permit Amendment (Courtenay Permit No. 738-0032-21-24) to aerial spray residential, commercial and public lands with a biological insecticide, Foray 48B, which contains the active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk). It poses a very low risk to humans, which can be further reduced by staying indoors during the spray, and does not harm mammals, birds, fish, plants, reptiles, amphibians or bees. It affects only moth and butterfly caterpillars after they have ingested it, and the spray timing targets the emergence of spongy moth caterpillars.
Foray 48B is used in organic farming and Btk is naturally present in urban, agricultural and forest soils throughout the province. Btk has been approved for the control of spongy moth larvae in Canada since 1961.
The ministry is planning three applications of Foray 48B between mid-May and mid-June 2023. Each of the three treatments will occur seven to 10 days apart and could take up to two days to complete. Treatments in the Dove Creek area will be conducted between sunrise and 8:30 a.m. and in Courtenay will be conducted between sunrise and 7:30 a.m. People who wish to minimize their exposure may remain indoors with their windows and doors closed during the spraying and for at least 30 minutes following the treatment. Changes in weather conditions may cause delays or cancellations of sprays with short notice.
- Spongy caterpillars feed on the leaves of more than 300 species of trees and shrubs and can damage forests, farms and orchards.
- Large spongy moth populations have defoliated sections of forests and residential areas in Ontario and the eastern United States in recent years.
- Spongy moths are unintentionally brought to B.C. on vehicles and equipment from eastern North America.
- Infested locations are often subject to increased pesticide use over large areas, agriculture and transportation quarantines, vehicle checks and product certification.
To learn more about spongy moths and the upcoming sprays, call 1 866 917-5999 or visit: www.gov.bc.ca/spongymoth.
For information about the pesticide use permits or to see a map of the treatment areas, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/spongy-news