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B.C. to spray against spongy moths in Lower Mainland

The B.C. government is set to begin its spring aerial spraying to combat the invasive spongy moth.

The province says it will be treating several areas in the Lower Mainland and the Interior to “eradicate spongy moths and minimize the risk they pose to forests, farms, orchards and trees.”

Included in the areas will be 30 hectares of land in Langley and 203 hectares in Tsawwassen. Parts of West Kelowna, Kamloops, and Cranbrook will also be treated.

According to the provincial government, the moths — also known as Lymantria moths — pose a risk to the local ecosystem and economy.

It notes the species’ caterpillars eat tree leaves and have had an impact on forests and residential areas in Ontario and parts of the eastern U.S. in recent years.

“Untreated spongy moths risk spreading to other areas of B.C. and are a threat to urban forests and farms,” the province said in a release Wednesday.

The government says the spray it will be using, Foray 48B, is a biological insecticide.

“The active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (BtK) is naturally present in urban, agricultural and forest soils in the province. It affects only moth and butterfly caterpillars after they have ingested it. The sprays target the emergence of spongy moth caterpillars. Btk was approved for the control of spongy moth larvae in Canada in 1961,” the province explained.

Spraying is set to begin in late April in three applications, set to wrap up in mid June. The province says it will conduct three treatments, seven to 10 days apart.

Weather could affect timelines. Treatment is also set to take place on Vancouver Island.

The province says the invasive moths are “unintentionally brought to B.C. on vehicles and equipment from eastern North America.” It notes the species is native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia.

“The Asian spongy moth has been found in B.C. as well. There is a constant threat that both strains could become established here,” the B.C. government’s website reads.

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