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Mississauga taking precautions to avoid cankerworm infestation

Last Updated Apr 10, 2018 at 11:59 pm EDT

Residents in Mississauga are bracing themselves, hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s infestation of cankerworms and gypsy moths.

The insects eat leaves, leave feces all over the place and get everywhere, including on people.

“I remember going for walks and coming back covered. My younger daughter would go to bed and find worms in her bed cause she had gone outside and would come home at night, it was disgusting,” recalls Marie McCloskey.

This year, the city wants to avoid stomach-churning complaints by spraying both private and public land in Wards 1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and 11.

Fly-overs will take place over the Lakeshore Area and Credit River Valley as of April 23rd until June 10th from 5 to 7:30 a.m., covering a total of 1,940 hectares.

“The helicopter company doing the sprays has proposed two helicopters to do the areas over three days and we would look at doing a second spray between 3-5 days later to ensure full coverage and bring the population back down to a manageable level,” explained Jamie Ferguson, Project Lead for the Arial Spray Program.

BTK, a naturally occurring bacterium found in soil is what will be sprayed over the area.

“We’re not anticipating any adverse health impacts associated with BTK, it’s been approved for use specifically for aerial spray programs in urban environments,” says Franca Ursitti, a Research and Policy Analyst with Region of Peel’s Health Services. “It’s been used for over 30 years in various jurisdictions in North America, Europe and New Zealand.”

It was last used in 2006 and 2007 and has been approved by Health Canada with no health issues expected.

As a precaution, residents are being asked to remain indoors when the spray is being conducted.

Other methods being used include sticky bands and burlap. City staff handed out some Tangle foot and pheromone traps, which many residents didn’t think twice to take home.

“It was to the point that if you were walking on the driveway, you could actually slip, it was almost like you were on ice,” recalls Pierre Mantha, who says the cankerworms soiled his entire summer last year.

“We’re going to fight the fight and let’s see what happens.”

The aerial spray program will be funded by the city and will cost around 1.9 million dollars. Residents will get another chance to learn more about how to deal with these insects and prevent tree loss at a general open house on May 1st.