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Sudbury blueberry shortage blamed on gypsy moth infestation

July is usually the time of year when Sudburians are searching for blueberries to pick, but for those who've been out and noticed the crops are not as good as other years, they're not alone.
Blueberry pickers in the northeast are cashing in on the latest crop of blue gold, a moniker given to the lucrative, short-term industry. (Yvon Theriault/Radio Canada)
Egg masses produced by gypsy moths are often brought into a region on infested materials such as canoes and firewood. (Minnesota Department of Agriculture)
July is usually the time of year when Sudburians are searching for blueberries to pick, but for those who've been out and noticed the crops are not as good as other years, they're not alone.

A provincial forest entomologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Foresty says Gypsy Moths are to blame for the shortage.

Taylor Scarr said the good news is the moth population is expected to collapse shortly as part of its usual cycle.

"It's been in the Subury area in outbreaks for the past two years now, so this is the third year,” he said.

“Last year, we aerially mapped through the ministry of natural resources forest health monitoring program, the technicians mapped just over 9000 hectares of severe defoliation, meaning over 75 per cent of the leaves were eaten from the trees."

Scarr said the Gypsy Moth has been spotted in other areas in the northeast, including North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. But he noted Sudbury is one of the only areas currently experiencing an outbreak.

"This is the third year in a row where we've seen severe defoliation in Sudbury,” he said.

“It's been in the Sudbury area since the late 1980s. It moved up from southern Ontario, probably by people moving the egg masses on infested materials such as canoes and firewood."

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