Nobody likes the idea of low-flying aircraft raining chemicals down on their neighbourhood.
Nobody. Fresh air is good. And what’s this Foray 48B, anyway?
On Wednesday (May 1), the government did the first of three planned sprays for gypsy moths in a 62-hectare area in North Surrey near Highway 1 and the Port Mann Bridge, between 5:20 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Two more treatments are planned by mid-June.
The agent they’re using is called Foray 48B, which contains bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk). This stuff has been approved for controlling gypsy moth larvae in Canada since 1961. Every year the spraying is done, people freak out about it. Petitions have been circulated, and government has held open houses in an effort to sell the concept.
It’s a hard sell. Can there be any wonder why? Hollywood has filled warehouses with cash on movies made about government or corporate bungling that inevitably results in zombie apocalypses, social and economic chaos and general catastrophe. There’s the entire Jurassic Park series, for example. These of course encourage the public to not trust authority. During the Cold War, school children were shown government films with “Bert the Turtle” advising them to simply duck and cover in the event of a nuclear attack.
In truth, measured skepticism, unlike blind acceptance, is healthy because the government sometimes does get it wrong.
That said, the reason why we must try to eradicate this invasive pest, which has no natural enemies here, is because it can defoliate forests and otherwise harm our agriculture, lumber mills and plant nurseries. According to gypsymothalert.com, these caterpillars decimated 320,000 acres of trees in New Jersey in 2007.
This nasty little insect was brought from France to North America in 1865 by a fellow who wanted to start a silk business in the U.S., and a windstorm scattered them about.
The government is spraying Foray 48B, like it or not. The best course of action, then, for those in affected areas, is to stay indoors with windows closed while they’re spraying, and for at least a half an hour afterward. Otherwise, ducking and covering likely won’t help much. In the meantime, the province will issue bulletins 24 hours before each spraying session, by phone at 1-866-917-5999 and at gov.bc.ca/gypsymoth.