Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith says the provincial government is hesitant to spray widely for lymantria dispar dispar moths, also known as LDD moths, because of the effect on other species and because the government feels the worst of the invasion is over.
“The expectation is that it will significantly drop off next year, and the following year we will have virtually no LDD moth infestation,” Smith said, addressing Havelock-Belmont-Methuen Township councillors at a regular meeting Tuesday. Smith spoke to councillors as part of a Queen's Park update.
Coun. Hart Webb said the township has been hard hit by an infestation of the moths this year and asked Smith if the province plans to deal with the situation in some way or provide funding to the municipality to help because “last year was bad but this year is getting really bad. The number of people going to private spraying is increasing.”
Smith said the province has had “significant conversations” regarding the moths.
A study was done after the last widespread spraying in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he said.
“What that study found was that prior to spraying, the life cycle was approximately seven to eight years. We are entering the seventh season right now.”
“The other thing that may occur is we’re expecting a much harsher winter which will kill off some of the eggs.” Smith said.
The study also found that when the spraying was done it extended that cycle of infestation by a number of years, he said.
“In some areas they sprayed for three years and the extension of the cycle was three years beyond that. There was significant money spent on it and, also, a number of other species were killed as a result.”
There was a reduction of the population, in particular, of wild turkeys who feast on the moths, Smith continued.
When the moths were sprayed, it poisoned the caterpillars, and then the turkeys ate them and died “so we’re really hesitant to do a widespread spraying because of the effect on some other species. Based on what we’ve seen from these cycles, our expectation is that this year will be the worst of it and we’re going to see a significant decline over the next two years.”
Short-term cottage rentals
Smith was also asked about the province’s response to problems with noise and unruly behaviour associated with short-term cottage rentals in the township.
He said the province is working on finding a balance between multi-generational family cottage traditions and those “citiots” who come, party and leave while taking advantage of the freedom they have in cottages in the area.
“It’s an education process that we have to go through. It’s taken longer than I thought it would,” he said.
There is a difference between rural and urban Airbnbs, he continued, and “we can’t have a blanket approach. It wouldn’t work for everyone.”
Even within Peterborough County, there are different challenges among townships, he said.
“I think what we can do is come up with best practices’ guidelines which will allow the municipality to implement something, working with us, that is going to be specific to their needs.”
NOTE: LDD moths are commonly called by an old name now recognized to be a slur against the Romani people.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner