As part of the early intervention strategy, researchers are studying several treatment options in areas that have low but rising budworm populations. Aerial applications of the control products being used usually occurs in the mornings and evenings in mid to late June.
In the research areas, tebufenozide (Mimic and Limit) and Btk are the products used to control spruce budworm populations. These products are approved for use by Health Canada. Studies have shown treatments of these products are effective against spruce budworm and pose minimal environmental risk. Neither product is harmful to humans or other mammals, bees, birds, or fish when used according to strict label conditions.
Pheromones are also being used in the research. Pheromones occur naturally, they are unique to each species of insect, and trigger behavioural changes in members of the same species. Pheromones pose no risk to humans or other animals. They are used to lure or attract insects to traps, and they can be used to disrupt mating cycles. Spruce budworm pheromones do not kill insects.
Tebufenozide and Btk must be eaten by spruce budworm caterpillars to be effective. To advance our understanding of these risks, we are also studying non-target impacts to monitor the short and longer-term impact of treatments on moth and butterfly species within our research areas. It is worth noting that part of the interest in targeting low budworm population levels is to avoid having to treat outbreaks of high populations over large areas. This approach will minimize the impact treatments could have on non-budworm caterpillars and natural enemies.