Gypsy moth and cankerworm population increasing – It’s a problem.

Gypsy Moth
Gypsy moth and cankerworm population increasing – It’s a problem.
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Gisele Shaw

Gisele Shaw

Gisele Shaw is the Manager of Corporate Communication for the town of Oakville since 2002. Prior to working for the town she worked for Halton Region as a communications specialist. She is a graduate of Humber College.

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With an increase in gypsy moth and cankerworm populations on the horizon, the town is hosting a public information session on Tuesday, April 10, where residents can learn about the town’s aerial spray program in town woodlands and how to take action to help stop gypsy moth and cankerworm from harming their trees and from spreading to other areas.

“The town’s tree canopy is one of our greatest assets. If left untreated, gypsy moth and cankerworm have the potential of damaging 409,000 trees across our communities. That’s 23 per cent of the town’s tree canopy,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “I encourage residents to attend the information session and learn what can be done to help protect our urban forest.”

Gypsy Moth

Cankerworm more commonly known as an inch worm; Photo by cheriejoyful on Foter.com / CC BY

The gypsy moth is a non-native insect that is considered a major pest in North America. The larvae, or caterpillar stage, of this insect can potentially devour every leaf of a tree’s canopy. Cankerworm (also known as inch worm) is a native insect whose population increases every 10-15 years. They also feed on tree leaves and have a serious impact on tree health. After severe or repeated loss of leaves, trees can die or become so weakened that they are vulnerable to other pressures.

The gypsy moth and cankerworm populations are expected to reach extreme levels in Oakville this year. Based on surveys conducted in 2017, 26 town woodlands were identified as high-risk areas that will likely experience serious tree defoliation and the potential loss of thousands of trees if no action is taken. As a result, the town will be conducting an aerial spray of a biological insecticide to curb the populations in heavily infested woodlands, likely in May when the young caterpillars start emerging. The treatment is a naturally occurring soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk) that is poisonous to certain types of caterpillars when ingested but is not harmful to humans or other insects or animals.

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The information session will be held from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, 2302 Bridge Road. If you wish to attend and have accessibility issues, please let us know by April 3 by contacting ServiceOakville at 905-845-6601 or emailing serviceoakville@oakville.ca or by filling out the accessible feedback form at oakville.ca

Oakville is not alone in its battle against gypsy moths. The town is currently working with other municipalities to coordinate a cooperative population control program.

You can learn more about gypsy moth and cankerworm and the town’s control program at oakville.ca.

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