Mississauga will use helicopters this Saturday to spray tree-killing insects

By Declan Finucane

Published on May 26, 2022 at 12:47 p.m.

Two helicopters will begin spraying areas of central and western Mississauga early Saturday morning (May 28) in an effort to save the city’s trees from an army of invasive leaf-eating insects.

The low-flying aircraft will begin spraying around 5 a.m. from 15 to 30 meters above the treetops in specific areas of the city plagued by the hungry bug.

Saturday’s effort, which is expected to last two to three hours, marks the first in a series of airstrikes expected in the coming weeks against what Mississauga city officials once called the “squishy”.

The city’s aerial spraying program now refers to the troublesome insects by their official name, Lymantria dispar dispar (LDD), and officials say the goal is to “target and manage” leaf-munching caterpillars, which, if left unchecked, they can kill trees at an alarming rate. assess.

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 or so. They add that there may be temporary park, trail and road closures during the spraying.

Saturday’s spraying targets Mississauga communities identified by the aerial program as spray zones A, D and E (parts of the last two zones), which can be viewed using an interactive map provided by the City.

Essentially, Zone A starts at Old Carriage Rd., south of Dundas St. W. and near the Credit Valley Golf Club, then moves east toward Hurontario St., mostly south of The Queensway and north of the QEW.

Zone D covers much of the Erindale Woods, then areas in and around Mississauga Road. when traveling south from Dundas St. W. to the QEW Hwy.

Zone E includes areas south of the QEW highway from Mississauga Road. to neighborhoods several blocks east of Hurontario Street, in addition to areas in the southeast quadrant of the Southdown Rd./QEW intersection.

The map shows the different areas of Mississauga targeted by the City of Mississauga Aerial Spraying Program. (Map: City of Mississauga)

The City notes that spraying in Areas D and E will take place during the first round over several days to minimize road closures and traffic disruptions. Residents are urged to check the City’s website for specific spraying updates.

Aerial spraying may be postponed to later dates if weather conditions change, the city adds.

The “gypsy moth,” or LDD, has been an unwanted presence in Mississauga for years and poses a serious threat to the tree canopy in many parts of the city as it eats oaks and other hardwood species.

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 received $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 in the past year and a half or so, the tree-chomping pest has returned in full force to Mississauga and across 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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