New Brunswick

Spruce budworm moth infestation creates cleanup headaches

The millions of spruce budworm moths that have been swarming the Campbellton and Dalhousie areas seem to be dying off, but they're leaving behind an enormous mess.

Millions of moths descended on Campbellton-Dalhousie region Monday, swarming around lights

(Budworm Tracker/Facebook)

The millions of spruce budworm moths that have been swarming the Campbellton and Dalhousie areas seem to be dying off, but they're leaving behind an enormous mess. 

Wayne Mann of Mann's Garden Centre in Tide Head has been on call the past few days, on clean-up duty around the region.

He was called in by Campbellton's Plaza auto dealership to help clean up the moths that carpeted the parking lot, vehicles, windows and shrubs on the property.

Mathieu LeClair's windshield was thick with moths when he stopped at a gas station overnight on Sunday in Dalhousie. (Mathieu LeClair/Facebook)
"There's millions of them here today. We've picked them up, sprayed them once, killed quite a number of them. But it's like the inside of a hot, hot horse barn. Things are dying off and if we leave them here — the smell — we won't be able to stand it."
It was a total mess.- Dawn Kenny, Dalhousie

Mann said his company is using a vacuum truck to suck up the all the little carcasses, 90 per cent of which are already dead or well on their way.

"We brush all these trees like you brush and comb your hair. We combed out everything into the sides and we're containing it into a twenty foot radius of where we're working," Mann said.

Wayne Mann uses a broom to brush the moths out of some trees in Campbellton. (Bridget Yard/CBC)
For Dawn Kenny of the Stewart House bed and breakfast in Dalhousie, the cleanup has been "horrible."

"The house was infested with them ... We totally had to clean the whole interior of the house and wash the walls down. It was unbelievable," she said.

"Things are dying off and if we leave them  here, the smell, we won't be able to stand it.' - Wayne Mann, Mann's Garden Centre

"They stick on the walls and then people try to hit them, and they squish them on the walls, and we had to wash, trying to get them out of there.

"We had to close one day to wash everything, wash the walls down. It was a total mess," Kenny said.

Dawn Kenny says her Dalhousie bed and breakfast was "a total mess' after being invaded by thousands of moths. (Bridget Yard/CBC)
However, for insect ecologist Rob Johns with Natural Resources Canada, that "mess" could provide a major source of information about the spruce budworm moth, which in its larval stage defoliates fir and spruce and has caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to forest land during major outbreaks.

He and his team are about to start examining the moths they've collected in Campbellton over the past few days.

"There are a pile of eggs around there. The bushes are loaded with eggs.

"The larvae which emerged from those will most likely die. There's no host to feed on, so they won't have a lot of success," Johns said.

He said another crew is going out next week to collect more branches, count pupae casings and try to determine the number of egg masses in the area.