Quebec to spray for spruce budworm in four regions

The forest protection society against insects and diseases will spray to cut back on the spruce budworm that can have a devastating effect on tree populations. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

The forest protection society against insects and diseases (SOPFIM) is launching a protection program against the dreaded spruce budworm (TBE), which should last several weeks in June in Quebec.

The nearly 300 people dedicated to the spraying operation, using 79 spray planes and 14 helicopters, will spray over 627,000 hectares of Quebec forest with a biological insecticide the budworms ingest at a time of year when the pest feeds heavily.

Since the end of April, the young caterpillars, barely 1.5 millimetres in length, have been emerging from hibernation and heading towards the ends of the branches. There, they feed on the pollen of the flowers while waiting for the buds to open.

As soon as the new shoots unfold, the caterpillars feed until the end of June.

This is when their damage is most apparent, and they can become responsible for more than 85 per cent of defoliation.

SOPFIM says that the spruce budworm is the most destructive insect of coniferous forests in North America. In Quebec, it mainly consumes the annual foliage of balsam fir and white spruce and red and black spruce.

As the epidemic continues for several years, the foliage may become insufficient to ensure the survival of the trees, and they start dying.

The sectors being protected by SOPFIM's spraying teams are the Lower St. Lawrence, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Gaspé and the North Shore.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 10, 2022. 

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