The invasive gypsy moth population in Raspberry has been growing for several years. Photo: of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The invasive gypsy moth population in Raspberry has been growing for several years. Photo: of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Spraying to eradicate gypsy moths in West Kootenay, starts

Spraying will take place over Raspberry over the spring

The B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources will be taking steps to eradicate invasive gypsy moths through aerial spraying in Raspberry this week.

The spraying will be done by a low-flying plane over about 167 hectares of land north of Castlegar. The treatment area is north of Broadwater Road, and extends east of Pass Creek Road and west of Marshall Road.

According to the ministry, the gypsy moth is destructive to native and urban forests and orchards. Without treatment, it could spread to other parts of the province and put at risk hundreds of species of trees and shrubs, including those in endangered Garry oak ecosystems.

The 2019 trapping data shows that a population of gypsy moths in Raspberry has persisted for at least two years and appears to be growing.

RELATED: Open house on gypsy moth aerial spray program in Castlegar

This will be one of four treatments needed over the course of the spring.

The ministry says the spraying will start shortly after sunrise (approximately 5:20 a.m.) and should be completed by 7:30 a.m. on treatment days.

Unless delayed by poor weather, each treatment is expected to take one to two mornings to apply. The ministry aims to complete the spraying by mid-June.

The spray equipment on the plane is GPS-calibrated and controlled. Spraying will occur only when the plane is immediately over the treatment area.

The spray area will be treated with Foray 48B, which contains Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk). Btk is an organic, natural agent that has been approved for the control of gypsy moth larvae in Canada since 1961. Foray 48B and other Btk formulations received certification for acceptable use on certified organic farms by the Organic Materials Review Institute of Canada in April 2018.

According to the ministry, Btk is naturally present in urban, forest and agricultural soil throughout the province. It does not harm humans, mammals, birds, fish, plants, reptiles, amphibians, bees or other insects and affects caterpillars only after they have ingested it.

The ministry is advising those who wish to minimize contact with the spray material to remain indoors with their windows and doors closed during the treatment, and for at least 30 minutes after.

They also recommend that pets and livestock that may be frightened by the aircraft be secured or brought indoors.

Spraying is scheduled to begin May 15, but MFLNR says poor weather or wind may cause treatments to be postponed with little advance notice, and the treatment will resume the next suitable morning.

Up-to-date spray schedules and recorded information can be accessed by calling 1-866-917-5999.

You can also subscribe to the gypsy moth email updates or find out more information at www.gov.bc.ca/gypsymoth.

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