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Insect control season underway in Winnipeg

With winter’s extreme weather warnings and parking bans barely behind us, the City of Winnipeg announced on Friday that its insect surveillance and larviciding programs are already underway.

Mosquito Control Program

This season’s mosquito control program will continue to be based on an environmentally mindful Insect Control Strategy, says the City of Winnipeg, which will continue using an integrated pest management approach which includes larviciding, residual treatments, and, when necessary, fogging.

The 2015 larviciding program is 100 per cent biological, which was made possible with the addition of $2.69 million dollars to the Insect Control Branch’s operating budget. As in previous years, the Insect Control Branch continues to use four larviciding helicopters on contract.

The total number of staff working at the branch has increased to 180 with the conversion to a fully biological larviciding program. Currently, the branch monitors and treats over 31,000 hectares of water area on an ongoing basis based on weather conditions.

Monitoring for adult nuisance mosquitoes in the New Jersey Light Traps will begin on May 1, 2015, and the first trap counts will be posted on May 4, 2015, on the city’s insect control website. This year, the Insect Control Branch has added four additional traps, one in each quadrant of the city. The additional traps are placed in the newer developments to ensure that mosquito counts are being monitored in all parts of the city.

The Adulticiding Factor Analysis (AFA) rating is low. For details on the AFA factors, please refer to the insect control website.

Fogging will be initiated only when the requirements of the city policy, the AFA guidelines, and the provincial pesticide use permit are met. If nuisance mosquito fogging is required, the program will be carried out in the entire city using Pro Malathion ULV, with buffer zones respected, prioritizing first for areas with highest nuisance mosquito populations.

ProMalathion ULV

Based on the health risk assessment by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), which took into account the potential hazard from animal studies and the likelihood of human exposure, Malathion is not considered to pose a cancer risk in humans as a result of its use to control mosquitoes, when used according to label directions.

The PMRA’s position on this was not changed by the recent International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) hazard classification, as pesticides are registered for use in Canada only if the level of exposure to Canadians does not cause any harmful effects, including cancer. It is important to note that the IARC hazard classifications are not health risk assessments – levels of human exposure were not taken into account.

Registered pesticides regularly undergo a re-evaluation to ensure that they continue to meet modern standards for human health and environmental protection and provide value.

The city has always taken additional measures in limiting exposure to the public by providing notification of when treatment is going to occur, allowing buffer zones and encouraging residents to close their windows during treatment. The city has implemented a 100 per cent environmentally-friendly larviciding program in an effort to reduce the need for residential fogging. However, fogging remains one of the control measures in years when adult mosquito populations become intolerable.

As in past years, the Insect Control Branch has been working closely with suppliers of other adult mosquito control products not currently registered in Canada in hopes of getting them registered.

A 24-hour public notice will be issued prior to the start of a nuisance fogging program. Daily public notices will also be issued detailing where fogging will occur that night. Personal notification by telephone and/or email of mosquito fogging program activities is also available by contacting the Insect Control Branch in writing at 3 Grey St., R2L 1V2, emailing 311@winnipeg.ca, faxing 311, registering online or registering in person at 1539 Waverley St.

Insect Management Areas

All Winnipeg neighbourhoods have been grouped into 51 insect management areas. Information on all fogging, cankerworm and elm bark beetle control activities will be provided by referencing the specific Insect Management Area in which they are being carried out. These maps can be found on the city’s website. You can also find out the insect management area you live in by calling 311.

Buffer Zones

Residents can apply for a 90-metre buffer zone in order to exempt their property during a residential adult nuisance mosquito fogging program. Property owners not wanting insecticides applied on or adjacent to their principal residence may register as “anti-pesticide registrants” for adult nuisance mosquito control using Pro Malathion ULV.

Those who wish to register must provide identification that ties the registrant to the address being registered for a buffer zone. A photocopy or scanned document like a driver’s licence or utility bill will suffice as acceptable identification proving primary residence.

You can register in writing to Insect Control Branch at 3 Grey St., R2L 1V2, by emailing 311@winnipeg.ca, faxing 311 or in person at 1539 Waverley St.

As a minimum 72-hour turnaround time is required for processing, residents are reminded to begin registering now for the 2015 season, in the event that cankerworm control or mosquito fogging is required.

Help fight the bite

The city is strongly encouraging property owners to also help “Fight the Bite,” as approximately 50 per cent of standing water sites are located on private property.

Homeowners can take one of the following steps to eliminate standing water on their properties:

• Dump It! – containers;

• Drain It! – eavestroughing or unused containers;

• Cover It! – rain water collection containers;

• Fill It! – low-lying areas;

• Treat It! – biological larvicide.

Cankerworm/Forest Tent Caterpillar Control Program

Monitoring of the fall cankerworm indicates a low population. Monitoring for the spring cankerworm is not complete at this time, as the adult moths are now climbing the trees. However, the Insect Control Branch expects the population to be very low.

This year the city is expecting a moderate to significant population of forest tent caterpillars. The Insect Control Branch will provide updates if a forest tent caterpillar control program will occur in the coming weeks as the trees burst their leaves and the larvae begin feeding.

Homeowners are reminded to remove tree bands

It is too late to carry out any further banding of your trees this spring as the wingless female moths have already started climbing the trees and laying their eggs on the branches. Please remember to remove any tree bands by mid-May, as the band will damage the bark of the tree if left on throughout the summer. To control fall cankerworms, please put new sticky bands up in early September.

Residents can apply for a 30-metre buffer zone in order to exempt their property during a cankerworm treatment program. Property owners not wanting insecticides applied on or adjacent to their principal residence may register as “anti-pesticide registrants” for the cankerworm control using Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki).

Personal notification by telephone and/or email of the cankerworm program activities is also available by contacting the Insect Control Branch in writing at 3 Grey St., R2L 1V2, emailing 311@winnipeg.ca, faxing 311, registering online, or in person at 1539 Waverley St.

More information is available by contacting 311 or by visiting the Insect Control Branch website.

— City of Winnipeg

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