The area of Surrey’s Fraser Heights neighbourhood where gypsy moths have been a problem in recent years. (image: surrey.ca)

The area of Surrey’s Fraser Heights neighbourhood where gypsy moths have been a problem in recent years. (image: surrey.ca)

Aircraft ready to spray insecticide in area of Surrey where gypsy moths are a problem

Permit allows pest-control product Btk to be sprayed up to four times from April 15 to June 30

* This story was updated at 1:25 p.m. on April 20

In a gypsy moth-destroying effort, one B.C. government ministry has given another the green light to begin aerial spraying of insecticide in a corner of Surrey’s Fraser Heights neighbourhood.

The 241-acre area, near Port Mann Bridge, will receive up to four aerial applications of the pest-control product Btk (known as Foray 48B in “commercial formulation”) between Wednesday (April 15) and June 30.

The earliest spray day would be in the second week of May, project co-ordinator Tim Ebata told the Now-Leader on Monday (April 20).

“Right now we’re looking at around May 9, but it depends on how warm it gets here, over the next week or so, because that could change things by a few days,” Ebata said.

“It’s temperature driven,” he added. “There’s a thing called degree day accumulations, which means there has to be so many days above a certain temperature that determines how quickly the eggs hatch and insects develop, so it’s accumulated over a long period, and we never really know until a few weeks before about what the exact date is.”

Each aerial treatment application of the insecticide will take one morning to complete, unless interrupted by poor weather, and will be conducted between sunrise and 7:30 a.m. “Treatment dates are weather dependent and will be advertised closer to the first application,” notes a B.C. government advertisement published in the Now-Leader.

“Btk has been approved for the control of gypsy moth larvae in Canada since 1961,” the ad notes.

In Surrey, the area of concern is located north of 108th Avenue to Highway 17 (South Fraser Perimeter Road), west to Highway 401 and east to 162nd Street.

“A good chunk of the spray block is in the old Surrey dump, on the hillside that goes all the way down to South Fraser Perimeter Road, but there some homes in the area,” Ebata said. “You can see the number of houses on the map we have, and there are quite a few houses.”

Those with questions about the spraying are directed to the website gov.bc.ca/gypsymoth and the toll-free phone number 1-866-917-5999. Ebata said people can subscribe for the latest updates by email, and that residents will also get a postcard in the mail warning about the impending project.

The area of Fraser Heights was hand-sprayed in 2017 and 2018, and then aerially sprayed in the spring of 2019.

“It is now apparent that the treatments did not completely eradicate this infestation,” said a news release from the Ministry of Forests in December.

The latest pesticide-use permit, posted to surrey.ca, has been granted to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Conditions are posted on the website in a 10-page document that includes maps of treatment areas in Surrey, Lake Cowichan and Castlegar.

(Story continues below video about the 2017 gypsy moth spray program for Saanich)

• READ MORE: Aerial gypsy moth sprayings planned for Surrey in 2020.

Trapping and monitoring results over the past several years, according to the December news release, show “clear evidence” that gypsy moth populations are becoming established in the treatment areas. “If left untreated, the invasive moth could spread to new areas of the province via vehicles, containers, rail and marine vessels.”

The ministry says gypsy moths are an introduced pest species, and the caterpillars feed on tree leaves and can damage forests, farms and orchards. In recent years, large gypsy moth populations have defoliated sections of forests and residential areas in Ontario and the U.S.

The moths are unintentionally brought to B.C. on vehicles and equipment from eastern North America, the ministry says.

The B.C. government website says Surrey and Delta residents can help prevent the gypsy moth from establishing permanently “by inspecting your outdoor plant waste for egg masses and ensuring all green waste goes in your green bin.

“If you are a resident of Surrey and have large green waste items that do not fit inside your green waste bin, call the City of Surrey Waste Collection Hotline at 604-590-7289,” the website says. “If you are a resident of Delta, ensure that all green waste is contained in green cans or kraft paper bags. Delta residents can drop off large quantities of green waste, free of charge, at Enviro-Smart Organics (4295 72 Street).”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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