A gypsy moth. (File photo, courtesy of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.)

Open house planned ahead of gypsy moth aerial spray in Surrey

The same 62-hectares of land in Guildford was unsuccessfully sprayed by ground in 2017 and 2018

A community open house is planned next week ahead of aerial gypsy moth spraying in the Guildford area.

According to a provincial government release, the meeting is set for Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at Erma Stephenson Elementary (10929 160th St.).

“Members of the B.C. gypsy moth technical advisory committee will be joined by representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Ministry of Agriculture and Canadian Food Inspection Agency, as well as other experts, to answer questions and provide information about the 2018 trapping season and the planned 2019 treatment area,” a government bulletin states.

Provincial government officials say they’re returning to North Surrey in their efforts to to eradicate a “growing population of gypsy moths” after “ground” sprays in the area in 2017 and 2018 were unsuccessful, “likely due to limited site access.”

The ministry has applied for a pesticide-use permit to aerial spray 62 hectares of residential and municipal park land close to Highway 1, near the Port Mann Bridge.

Read more: Aerial gypsy moth spraying planned in Surrey after ground sprays unsuccessful

The ministry is planning up to four applications of Foray 48B between April 15 and June 30, 2019.

“Foray 48B is used in organic farming and contains bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk),” according to a government release. “Btk has been approved for the control of gypsy moth larvae in Canada since 1961.”

Ahead of the the ground spraying in the same area in 2018, Forest Health Officer Tim Ebata told the Now-Leader the province opted against aerial spraying because of how close it was to the Port Mann Bridge.

“We were mainly concerned with all the commuters flipping out at aircraft essentially flying at the same height they’re travelling at,” he said at the time.

Ebata said the 2018 ground spray was needed in this area, for the second year in a row, due to a “highly perturbed” area behind Dogwood RV Park in Guildford.

“There’s a gully right behind Dogwood RV park that’s extremely steep and we tried just to spray the edge of it (in 2017) but in fact the moths were deep inside it,” Ebata told the Now-Leader at the time. “We’re seriously putting an effort into spraying this gully so we actually have people climbing trees actually spraying down onto the canopy.”

Related story: Gypsy moths ‘surviving’ in residential area of Guildford, trapping results show, from May 2017.

See also: Gypsy moth infestation discovered in Cloverdale, from Oct. 2014.

It’s now hoped the aerial spray will now rid the area of the pests.

The gypsy moth is an introduced and invasive pest species. A government release notes the caterpillars feed on tree leaves and can damage forests, farms and orchards.

Large gypsy moth populations defoliated sections of forests and residential areas in Ontario and the eastern United States in recent years.

If left untreated, authorities warn, the gypsy moth “could spread to new areas of the province through vehicles, containers, rail cars and marine vessels, and lead to quarantines which would impact agricultural and horticultural businesses in the area.”

Aerial spraying to eradicate gypsy moth populations have been controversial in Surrey in the past.

In April 2015, gypsy moth spraying in Surrey and Delta caused controversy as residents complained about health problems and noise from the helicopters spraying the treatment.

See also: Surrey woman calls for opt-out option ahead of gypsy moth spraying (May 2, 2018)

See also: Residents question spray safety (April 27, 2015)

“The aerial spray has known seasonal allergy-like symptoms to a small portion of the population like runny noses and itchy, watery eyes but these can be avoided by simply heeding our advice and staying indoors (for half an hour),” Ebata told the Now-Leader in 2018.

Residents are invited to submit comments on the current application (referring to to permit number 738-002919/19) for evaluation to the Integrated Pest Management Act administrator, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Suite 200-10470 152 St., Surrey, B.C., V3R 0Y3, by Jan. 11, 2019.

For more information, visit gov.bc.ca/gypsymoth.

-With files from Tom Zillich

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