A gypsy moth. (File photo, courtesy of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.)

Aerial gypsy moth spraying planned near Port Mann Bridge next year

B.C. government planning up to four applications in North Surrey between April 15 and June 30, 2019

Provincial government officials say they’re returning to North Surrey in their efforts to to eradicate a “growing population of gypsy moths” after previous “ground” sprays in the area were unsuccessful.

The ministry has applied for a pesticide-use permit to aerial spray 62 hectares of residential and municipal park land close to Highway 1, near the Port Mann Bridge in North Surrey next year.

“This is the same area of North Surrey that was ground (hand) sprayed in 2017 and 2018. It is now apparent that the ground sprays were not effective,” says a B.C. government news release, sent Friday (Dec. 7) by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

The ministry is planning up to four applications of Foray 48B between April 15 and June 30, 2019.

Related story: Gypsy moths ‘surviving’ in residential area of Guildford, trapping results show, from May 2017.

See also: Gypsy moth infestation discovered in Cloverdale, from Oct. 2014.

“Foray 48B is used in organic farming and contains bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk),” according to the government release. “Btk has been approved for the control of gypsy moth larvae in Canada since 1961.”

Ahead of the the ground spraying in the same area earlier this year, Forest Health Officer Tim Ebata told the Now-Leader the province opted against aerial spraying because of how close it was to the Port Mann Bridge.

“We were mainly concerned with all the commuters flipping out at aircraft essentially flying at the same height they’re travelling at,” he said at the time.

Ebata said the 2018 ground spray was needed in this area, for the second year in a row, due to a “highly perturbed” area behind Dogwood RV Park in Guildford.

“There’s a gully right behind Dogwood RV park that’s extremely steep and we tried just to spray the edge of it (in 2017) but in fact the moths were deep inside it,” Ebata told the Now-Leader. “We’re seriously putting an effort into spraying this gully so we actually have people climbing trees actually spraying down onto the canopy.”

See also: Surrey woman calls for opt-out option ahead of gypsy moth spraying(May 2, 2018)

It’s now hoped the aerial spray will now rid the area of the pests.

The gypsy moth is an introduced and invasive species.

“The caterpillars feed on tree leaves and can damage forests, farms and orchards,” a government release notes. “Large gypsy moth populations defoliated sections of forests and residential areas in Ontario and the eastern United States in recent years

If left untreated, authorities warn, the gypsy moth “could spread to new areas of the province through vehicles, containers, rail cars and marine vessels, and lead to quarantines which would impact agricultural and horticultural businesses in the area.”

“The moths are unintentionally brought to B.C. on vehicles and equipment from eastern North America. Infested locations are often subject to agriculture and transportation quarantines, and additional treatments including vehicle checks, product certification and increased pesticide use.

Aerial spraying to eradicate gypsy moth populations have been controversial in Surrey in the past.

In April 2015, gypsy moth spraying in Surrey and Delta caused controversy as residents complained about health problems and noise from the helicopters spraying the treatment.

See also: Residents question spray safety (April 27, 2015)

“The aerial spray has known seasonal allergy-like symptoms to a small portion of the population like runny noses and itchy, watery eyes but these can be avoided by simply heeding our advice and staying indoors (for half an hour),” Ebata told the Now-Leader earlier this year.

Residents are invited to submit comments on the application (referring to to permit number 738-002919/19) for evaluation to the Integrated Pest Management Act administrator, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Suite 200-10470 152 St., Surrey, B.C., V3R 0Y3, by Jan. 11, 2019.

For more information, visit gov.bc.ca/gypsymoth.

-With files from Tom Zillich



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