It's a wiggly world out there, but Ken Nawolsky wants you to know the city has it under control.

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This article was published 11/5/2017 (1626 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It's a wiggly world out there, but Ken Nawolsky wants you to know the city has it under control.

Nawolsky, superintendent of the City of Winnipeg's insect control branch, said Thursday the city will start its programs to battle forest tent caterpillars and elm bark beetles within the next two weeks. Meanwhile, the first round of spring larviciding for mosquitoes has been completed.

Spraying for forest tent caterpillars will start Sunday at 9:30 p.m. in designated areas of the city. The caterpillars feed on American elm, Manitoba maple, green ash and ornamental trees. Spraying for elm bark beetles, which carry Dutch elm disease, will start May 23. 

Nawolsky said the forest tent caterpillar control program will continue from 9:30 p.m. to 6 a.m., weather permitting, until further notice.

He said Winnipeggers can expect to see a significant amount of forest tent caterpillars through the city in May and June based on the department's surveillance information. 

City crews are seeing forest tent caterpillars starting to eat holes in leaves.

"The caterpillars are expected to be present for about five weeks and stop their feeding before they begin to pupate to prepare for the next stage of their life cycle," Nawolsky said.

To reduce the population, the city is spraying a biological product called Btk directly onto the foliage of trees using high-pressure tree sprayers. The caterpillars ingest the Btk, stop feeding and die a couple of days later.

Nawolsky said the first areas to be sprayed Sunday include insect management area No. 43 (Tyndall Park and Omand's Creek industrial area) and 51 (Amber Trails, Leila North, Riverbend, Rivergrove, Rosser, Old Kildonan and the West Kildonan industrial area).

He said property owners can use dish soap mixed with water to spray the forest tent caterpillars. They are small and can be easily seen along the bark of the tree at this time of year.

"A lot of times people wait until it's too late, until they're really active and moving. They're so concentrated here (at this time), it doesn't take much to kill them," Nawolsky said.

Property owners are responsible for spraying on their own properties and can buy Btk at most home-and-garden centres or hire a tree-spraying company.

The elm bark beetle program will start May 23 in insect management area No. 31 (Crescentwood, North River Heights and Wellington Crescent) and 32 (Earl Gray, Ebby Wentworth, Grant Park, McMillan, Rockwood and Roslyn). Treatment will take place Monday to Thursday from 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weather permitting, until the fall. 

Nawolsky said the city has been operating an "aggressive larviciding program" to prevent mosquitoes from hatching, adding the population is expected to remain very small for the next three weeks at least, weather permitting. The most recent mosquito trap count was 0, he said.

"It's really the next rainfall that will be the one that triggers the summer species, so it depends on the magnitude of what we get," he said. "If it's an inch, that's easy to manage. If we get a downpour that's three to four inches, that's the kind of rainfall that causes us some problems."

Nawolsky said the spraying programs will move throughout the city and to areas where crews identify the highest need.

To find out what areas of the city will be sprayed and when, go to the city's website.

Anyone wishing to register for a 30-metre buffer zone for any of the insect control programs can contact the city by calling 311 or by email at 311@winnipeg.ca.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca