The Weather Network
May. 20, 2022 | Friday
Local News
Helicopters to spray gypsy moth caterpillars
Paradise Grove, on the corner of John Street and Niagara Parkway, is one of the two locations where the gypsy moth insecticide will be sprayed. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

Niagara Parks will be conducting an aerial spray program to combat gypsy moths and protect tree canopy.

The gypsy moth caterpillars, a non-native invasive species, can “feast pretty aggressively” on the leaves, defoliating and causing damage to trees, said Steve Barnhart, senior director of parks, environment and nature.

The spray program will take place in two areas that have the highest concentration of gypsy moth caterpillars. The first location is Paradise Grove, at John Street and Niagara Parkway in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Another targeted location is Upper Whirlpool Woods, a wooded area around the Whirlpool Golf Course.

The first aerial spray application is scheduled for May 19 to 22. The second one is planned May 26 to June 2.

The spray will be applied by a low-flying helicopter between 5 and 7 a.m.

A biological insecticide used for spraying is made of a naturally occurring soil bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki. Although it’s not chemically created, residents are advised to stay inside while spraying is occurring. The spray may also leave some residue on outdoor furniture.

The dates and times can also change depending on some factors, such as weather or leaf cover.

Barnhart said the program is nothing new for southern Ontario as the gypsy moth tends to grow in concentrations every seven to 12 years.

The last time the aerial spray program was conducted was in 2008, he said.

“We suspect that we will have to revisit the survey this fall and we might have to do something again next year, but it’s too early to tell,” Barnhart told The Lake Report.

Niagara Parks has collaborated with Trees Unlimited and Zimmer Air Services Inc. for this program.

Residents are invited to attend Niagara Parks’ public information centre on May 9, at Legends on the Niagara, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. to learn more about the topic.