News Release Archive

Natural Resources Minister Eleanor Norrie announced today that a
limited spray program, using the insecticide B.t.k., will be
carried out this summer in some areas of Victoria and Inverness
Counties to protect selected forest stands from the hemlock

The program is designed to protect immature balsam fir stands
which have previously received significant silviculture

The undertaking is part of an integrated pest management strategy
that includes Stora Forest Industries redirecting its crown land
harvesting program to mature fir adjacent to control areas, in
order to reduce future damage from insects.

The program will be carried out between mid-June and late July
using the biological insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki
(B.t.k.), which is produced from a naturally occurring organism
in the soil.

The product, said the minister, is registered with Health Canada
and regulated by the provincial Department of the Environment. It
was last used in Nova Scotia in 1987 against the spruce budworm
and hemlock looper.

Recent insect surveys indicate a build-up in some areas in
hemlock looper populations, a serious pest in balsam fir trees.

Although this defoliating insect is usually present in low
numbers, outbreaks are characterized by dramatic increases and
rapid collapses due to natural controls, such as disease and 
parasites. The current population increase is in the early stages
of development and natural controls have not yet taken effect to
reduce their numbers. B.t.k. does not affect natural biological
controls and insect predators.

The highest populations are in the Crowdis Mountain and Keppoch
Highlands areas.

"These crown lands have significant amounts of balsam fir and
considerable silviculture investment has been made over the past
15 years," said Mrs. Norrie. "It is crucial that we protect the
approximately 2000 hectares of forest at high risk."

With high numbers, the hemlock looper can completely defoliate an
area in one year. Typically, a looper infestation will last three
to five years before collapsing.

The locations and population size are difficult to monitor
because they may be present in isolated pockets throughout the 
forest. Heavy defoliation often occurs next to trees that have
little or no damage.

"I credit department staff for monitoring and detecting this
sudden increase in the hemlock looper population," said Mrs.
Norrie. "We will expand our surveys to monitor the status of this
infestation throughout the summer and fall."

The larvae, or caterpillars, emerge in mid-June to begin feeding,
which is completed by late summer. Adult moth flights occur
between September and early November. The moths are weak fliers
and are generally found within 4.5 metres of the ground.
Consequently, the insect does not necessarily spread rapidly
throughout an entire area.

Information and identification leaflets on the hemlock looper are
available from Natural Resources offices.

A public information session will be held at the Middle River
Community Centre between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 7. More
information will be available at that time.


NOTE TO EDITORS: A media briefing will take place at the Middle
River Community Centre at 1 p.m., Monday, May 6.

Contact: Blain Henshaw   902-424-5252

         Walter Fanning  902-758-2232

trp                         May 02, 1996 - 3:20 p.m.