(Photo courtesy of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.)

‘Ideal conditions’ mean the end of aerial spraying to rid Surrey area of gypsy moth – for now

Trapping this summer will determine if more spraying in Fraser Heights will be needed in 2021

A plane has finished its work to spray a biological insecticide over an area of North Surrey plagued by the gypsy moth – for now, at least.

Aerial spraying in a corner of the Fraser Heights neighbourhood has been done on several mornings this month, starting May 5, with the final round completed Thursday (May 28).

“No further treatments are planned at this time, and pheromone trapping in the area this summer will determine if treatments will be required in 2021,” says an advisory.

Near Port Mann Bridge, this was the second spring for aerial spraying of Foray 48B, a biological insecticide containing Btk, after ground spraying proved ineffective in both 2017 and 2018, according to program officials.

“We had ideal conditions for Surrey this time,” Tim Ebata, B.C.’s Forest Health Officer, told the Now-Leader on Monday (June 1).

“We completed the spray program there with no issues, and the next step now is for the CFIA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, to do the monitored trapping,” Ebata explained.

“They’ll be doing another round of trapping in that area to determine if we were successful or not, and essentially we start the cycle all over again in terms of deciding what we do with the trap results. We may or may not have to treat again, and I hope we don’t because it’d be the fifth year in a row to spray that problematic area.”

• RELATED STORY: May 5 date set for plane to spray Surrey area plagued by gypsy moth.

The problem area is a 241-acre parcel of land, north of 108th Avenue to Highway 17 (South Fraser Perimeter Road), west to Highway 1 and east to 162nd Street.

Any further spraying of the area would be announced this fall, Ebata said. “If it requires another aerial treatment we’ll submit another application for a pesticide-use permit and go through the consultation again, as we’ve done in previous years,” he added.

The aerial spraying this year resulted in some noise complaints, Ebata said.

“That was the most common concern we heard, and that was primarily from people who weren’t aware of the spraying, who were basically in the areas where the aircraft were turning, including Port Coquitlam, in particular,” he said. “They were outside of the advertisement area and local news coverage, but once we explained what was going on, they understood.”

Trapping and monitoring results over the past several years show “clear evidence” that gypsy moth populations are becoming established in parts of North Surrey, Lake Cowichan and Castlegar, according to program officials. “If left untreated, the invasive moth could spread to new areas of the province via vehicles, containers, rail and marine vessels,” officials said in December.

Gypsy moths are an introduced pest species, and the caterpillars feed on tree leaves and can damage forests, farms and orchards.

“We do apologize for any noise or inconvenience caused by this spraying,” Ebata said, “but we are doing the work on behalf of all British Columbians. The program is trying to keep a highly destructive insect out of British Columbia, and we’ve been successful so far.”

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.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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