June 19, 2014 2:59 pm

City to spray downtown Winnipeg worm infestation

WINNIPEG – City crews will spray a biological agent on a downtown neighbourhood Friday to help rid the area of thousands of elm spanworms.

“This is the stage you want to take them out because this is the feeding stage; it’s easy to control when they’re in the trees,” said entomologist Taz Stuart of Poulin’s Pest Control.

Residents started noticing thousands of worms last week, covering about four blocks downtown from the legislature grounds, along the Assiniboine River, to Carlton Street and Broadway.

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A city crew member will spray the biological agent BTK into the tree canopy in that area Friday, weather permitting, the city said. It should take an hour and a half to complete. The city announced the move after Global News first reported on the infestation Wednesday.

RELATED: Worms invade downtown Winnipeg neighbourhood

After that it will take the long, thin, black worms about four to five days to die.

That’s not soon enough for some residents of the area, including Betty Inseal, a landlord at a building in the thick of the worm infestation.

“They’re all up the wall there. They’re going into the apartment windows,” said Inseal.

There’s no air conditioning in the building, but residents are being told to keep their windows closed so the worms don’t get inside.

“I’m buttoned up. I make sure I don’t get them down my neck,” said Peggy Brooker, who was out walking her dog.

“It’s a shame because you don’t want to go out. We usually go for big long walks but every time I get a drop of something, I think it’s in my hair, and then when I get in the house, I take my things off and shake them,” said Brooker.

In the meantime the worms are eating through trees and plant life.

“Fortunately the trees are very resilient so in another two to three weeks, and especially with the significant rainfall, they’ll put out a new flush of leaves,” said Ken Nawolsky, Winnipeg’s superintendent of insect control.

Elm spanworms eat through leafs

Ashley Carter/Global News

The worms will be out and about for another week, and then they’ll drop to the ground and burrow for a couple of weeks before turning into moths.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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