Invasive spongy moth treatments planned for Courtenay area

Jan 24, 2023

To minimize the risk invasive spongy moths pose to forests, farms, orchards and urban trees and to prevent the moths from becoming permanently established, the Ministry of Forests plans to carry out a spongy moth treatment program in Courtenay during the spring.

Invasive spongy moths (also known as Lymantria moths, and formerly known as gypsy moths) pose a risk to B.C.’s ecosystems and economy. Spongy moth caterpillars feed on tree leaves and have defoliated sections of forests and residential areas in Ontario and the eastern United States in recent years. Should spongy moths become permanently established, trees, such as Garry oak, arbutus, red alder, aspen, cottonwood, maple, orchard fruit trees, nut trees and many species of urban ornamental trees, will be affected. Local pollinators that rely on these trees face increased competition from spongy moth caterpillars for resources. Untreated spongy moths risk spreading to other areas of B.C. and are a threat to forests and farms.

Agricultural operations are at risk from spongy moths because the moths can affect food crops, such as apples, blueberries and other fruits, as well as garden nursery products. Infested operations are often subject to agriculture quarantines, as well as additional measures that may include product certification and increased pesticide use. Also, a permanent spongy moth population would require B.C. agricultural and forest exports to be subject to restrictions at the U.S. border. These commodities would have to be inspected, possibly resulting in delays or additional expense associated with the export of these products. Commercial and non-commercial vehicle traffic into the U.S. could also be inconvenienced by a more thorough inspection regimen.

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