Helicopters will again spray tree-killing insects in Mississauga this weekend

By Steve Pecar

Published on June 3, 2022 at 4:30 p.m.

The second round of the aerial spraying program will take place in Mississauga again this weekend (June 4-5) and Monday (June 6).

The helicopters will leave from 5 a.m. and the procedure will last about three hours.

To see if you are in one of the spray zones, check out the interactive City of Mississauga map.

Watering zones planned for Saturday, June 4:

  • Spraying Zone A
  • Spray Zone D (portion)
  • Spray Zone E (portion)

Watering zones planned for Sunday, June 5:

  • Zone B spraying
  • Spraying Zone D (rest)

Watering zones planned for Monday, June 6:

  • Zone C spraying
  • Spraying Zone E (rest)

This will be the second weekend in a row for aerial assaults that target the gypsy moth.

Now referred to by its official name, Lymantria dispar dispar (LDD), officials say the goal is to destroy the insect in its leaf-eating caterpillar stage, which if left unchecked can kill trees at an alarming rate.

City officials say it’s important for all Mississauga residents to know when, where and how aerial spraying will be used over the next month. They add that there may be temporary park, trail and road closures during the spraying.

The aerial spray program should protect hardwoods such as maple, oak, elm, ash, poplar, willow and birch.

While the City has used other methods to control the insect’s population, aerial spraying has been determined to be the most effective weapon.

Mississauga forestry staff have been given $3 million in the city’s 2022 budget with which to stage the last aerial battle against the hungry pest.

The city was last bombed in 2018, which helped slow the LDD population for about two years. But over the past year and a half or so, the tree-chomping pest has returned in full force to Mississauga and southern Ontario.

The insecticide used is called Foray 48B, containing the active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki (BTK).

The spray produces fine droplets small enough to stick to tree leaves. Btk is a naturally occurring soil bacterium and has been approved by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, an agency of Health Canada, for aerial use over urban areas.

According to Health Canada, treatment with Btk is considered low risk to human health and the environment. It is only toxic in the caterpillar stage of the LDD life cycle and does not affect moths or adult moths.

Last year, it was determined that the “gypsy moth” was also a nuisance in another way.

People who came into close contact with heavily wooded areas developed rashes, which were not severe in nature, but caused mild tingling and itching symptoms for several days.

Originating in Europe, LDD was introduced to North America several decades ago. Caterpillars eat tree leaves in spring and early summer.

While healthy trees may regrow their leaves in the same season, continued infestation weakens trees and can also make them more susceptible to damage from other insects.

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