St. Clair Township is taking preliminary steps to address gypsy moth infestations.
Like many other municipalities in Lambton County the township is not immune to the ravenous insects. They’ve been responsible for the defoliation and destruction of many trees in southwestern Ontario.
Some towns have been spraying highly infested areas in an effort to ward off the moths. Lambton Shores took this approach earlier this year.
Now that residents in St. Clair have been reporting them, Director of Community Services Kendall Lindsay asked council to allow for surveying of the township to see where local spraying might need to be carried out.
Lindsay says the survey is an important step to see just how bad the problem is. “They would look at the tree canopies that we have throughout the township and then choose where they’re going to look for them and then they would come back with populations and whether the thresholds were met,” he says of the process.
The scale of gypsy moth numbers can often be underestimated.
“People that think they have a lot of gypsy moths, (usually) don’t. An actual severe infestation is very noticeable,” says Lindsay, explaining that even if people think they have a lot of moths their area might not necessarily be sprayed.
BioForest Technologies was the recommended company to carry out the survey. Costs were estimated at between $10,000-20,000 for the survey and $1,000 per hectare of land eventually sprayed. The pesticide most likely to be used would be Dipel.
Lindsay says other municipalities have had success with the spraying, but they’d have to decide how to move ahead in areas with heavy moth concentrations.
“One municipality I talked to was spraying private land because they were trying to protect their city tree canopy,” he says. “And then others were just spraying township property. That’s the other part of the equation if we go down this road, are we going to just spray municipal property or are we going to try to protect the trees.”
Deputy Mayor Steve Miller was wary of spraying on private property while Mayor Steve Arnold wanted more information on possible fallout.
“Sometimes the cure is worse than the cause,” says Arnold. “We could have lawsuits or people being sick because of what we spray, even on our own property.”
The survey was originally budgeted for 2022 but council approved money from the Education and Environment fund to move it up to this year.
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent