City of Winnipeg gearing up for elm bark beetle control program

Leaves of Elm (Ulmus Minor) with Dutch elm disease. Getty Images/Maika 777

The City of Winnipeg is buzzing to take another swat at its Elm Bark Bettle Control Program, hopeful it will slow the spread of Dutch elm disease (DED).

Weather permitting, the City said the decades-old program will start up again this Sunday in four Insect Management areas.

Communities in these areas include:

  • Earl Grey
  • Ebby Wentworth
  • Grant Park
  • McMillan
  • Rockwood
  • Roslyn
  • Brooklands
  • Sargent Park
  • St. James Industrial
  • Burrows Central
  • Robertson
  • William Whyte
  • Griffin
  • Meadows
  • Peguis
  • Radisson
  • Regent
  • Victoria West

David Wade, superintendent of Winnipeg’s Insect Control Branch, said the beetles spread DED by boring themselves under the bark of infected trees, collecting the disease’s fungal spores on its back, and moving tree to tree.

“The native elm bark beetle isn’t a great flyer, so it tends just to go short distances. It’s more adjacent tree to adjacent tree,” said Wade.

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To prevent the disease from fanning out, Wade said Pyrate 480 EC will be sprayed on the bottom 50 centimetres of elm tree trunks, where the insect sets up camp for winter.

Wade said it’s an effective tool, as it “targets the nervous system of the beetle and kills it quite readily once it’s been ingested,” but recommends people and their pets steer clear of the area until the chemical dries.

He said that usually takes about two hours. “Once the product has dried, there’s no concern to the general public or to pets,” he said.

Winnipeg said “the chemical will be used in accordance with federally approved label directions by licensed pesticide applicators.”

Wade said that community members will be made aware when the chemical will be, and has been, sprayed.

“If it’s not raining, we do post signs,” he said. “We’re just doing boulevard trees, and we do post signs at the beginning and end of each block, and every forth tree or so.”

The program will last about four weeks, Wade said.

A notification system for those wishing to know when the program is coming to their area ahead of time can register to receive weekly phone, or email, notifications by contacting 311, or visiting the City’s website.

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Notifications will be sent out on Fridays, Winnipeg said.

More information can be found by contacting 311, or the City’s Insect Control website.

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