(File Photo)

The BC government is implementing the first round of its aerial spray program this spring to target invasive spongy moths, also known as gypsy moths.

In a media release, the Forests Ministry said spraying is planned for the Greater Victoria area,  Courtenay, Campbell River and Port Alberni.

The spray, which has been used in organic farming and has been approved for use in Canada since 1961, is aimed at preventing the moths from becoming permanently established.

According to BC’s Ministry of Forests, once established, the invasive spongy moths feed on trees like Garry oak, arbutus and red alder and compete with local pollinators.

The ministry says a record number of male spongy moths were trapped across BC last year, and records show an increased number has been detected at seven identified treatment sites over the past three years.

“This indicates that spongy moths could become established in those locations if the planned pesticide spraying is not completed,” the province said.

The increased threat potential is tied to outbreaks in Ontario and Quebec. Egg masses are commonly transported to BC on recreational vehicles and outdoor household objects originating from affected areas outside of the province.

Spraying will take place between April 1st and June 30th.

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