British Columbia

Gypsy moth spraying begins over Surrey

The first round of aerial spraying over residential and city-owned parts of Surrey is set to begin Wednesday.

Spraying will take place near the Port Mann Bridge on Wednesday, weather permitting

A male gypsy moth. The province is starting aerial sprays meant to kill gypsy moth caterpillars this week, planning to complete three rounds by mid-June in hopes of eradicating the invasive species. The North American strain of the moth was first spotted in B.C. in 1978.

The first round of aerial spraying to kill off gypsy moths is set to begin in northern areas of Surrey, B.C., on Wednesday.

The province said spraying will happen over homes as well as city land in areas close to Highway 1, near the Port Mann Bridge, as long as the weather stays clear.

It is the same area that was sprayed by hand in 2017 and 2018. A statement from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said "it is now apparent" those sprays didn't work, "likely due to limited site access."

Three separate spraying treatments will be done this spring, starting shortly after sunrise and finishing by 7:30 a.m. each time. The ministry said it hopes to complete all three rounds by mid-June.

Gypsy moths are an invasive species known to damage around 300 varieties of trees and other plants. The spray, called Foray 48B, contains a bacteria that kills gypsy moth caterpillars.

The gypsy moth caterpillar dances from an invisible line of silk beneath a crab apple tree in Ontario in June 2014. (Chris Seto/CBC)

Residents in Surrey and Delta have previously petitioned to have the spraying cancelled out of concerns that Foray 48B could hurt people, but the ministry said there is no evidence the spray is harmful to humans or other wildlife.

The statement said the Organic Materials Review Institute of Canada certified Foray 48B and other formulations of the pesticide Btk for use on certified organic farms in April 2018.

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