Residents raise concerns about gypsy moth spraying in Surrey and Delta

Helicopter spraying the pesticide over a neighbourhood in April. Viewer submitted

Residents in Surrey and Delta are raising their concerns about gypsy moth spraying in their backyards.

On Wednesday, the first round of aerial spraying meant to stop invasive gypsy moths began in parts of Surrey and Delta.

Spraying has been taking place every day between 5:20 and 7:30 a.m.

Tanya Pedersen, who lives in Surrey’s Sullivan Heights neighbourhood near 150th Street and 60th Avenue, says her family was woken up by helicopters spraying the anti-moth agent Wednesday morning.

“They were very loud. We just did not know what was going on,” she says. “I was wondering how we missed this, and talking to my neighbours, nobody knew what was going on.”

Surrey resident Ryan Bennett says his house near 184th Street and 68th Avenue in Clayton Heights was sprayed at 5:30 a.m. this morning.

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Bennett claims the spraying is making his skin itch and eyes burn. He says his neighbours are experiencing the same symptoms.

“If I knew me and my family would be exposed to a chemical bath this morning, we would have left town,” he says. 

But, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations spokesperson Greig Bethel told Global News Health Canada has approved the Btk product (Foray48B) used for aerial applications over populated areas.

“There have been two extensive public health monitoring studies in Vancouver and Victoria,” the ministry said in a statement. “The results have not shown any increase in illnesses seen by health care providers or in hospital emergency room visits due to spraying. As well, the monitoring has not shown evidence of harmful effects on children with asthma or those with weakened immune systems.”

If people wish to avoid contact with the spray, Bethel says, it is recommended that they stay indoors while their property and nearby areas are being sprayed. People should wait until the spray has dissipated before going outdoors, which can take up to 30 minutes.

Like Pedersen, Bennett is concerned about the lack of communication from the ministry.

“Nobody had any knowledge of what was going on,” he says.

But the ministry told Global News presentations have been given to Surrey and Delta councils addressing the matter and a public open house was held in Surrey on March 3.

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The ministry also says all permit and treatment steps were advertised in local newspapers.

Bennett says it is not enough.

“A simple, small notification in some local paper does not suffice,” he says. “That’s not where the audience is today…It sounds to me like they did not go out of their way to notify us.”

Aerial spraying in Surrey will continue Friday morning and Saturday, weather permitting.

The second set of treatments for Delta and Surrey are tentatively scheduled for April 27.

Gypsy moths are considered an invasive species and a direct threat to major B.C. fruit producers.

Because of a warmer than usual spring, caterpillars are emerging earlier than normal, and the ministry is aiming to have spraying completed by mid-May.

Residents who want to stay up-to-date on spray activities can sign up for e-mail alerts here.

Schedule information is also available 24 hours a day through the gypsy moth information line, 1 866 917-5999.

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