COURTENAY, B.C. – The provincial government’s efforts to rid the region of gypsy moths got off to a good start.

The insects are considered an invasive species. The first of three aerial sprayings took place at 6:00 a.m. Monday morning, and wrapped up at 6:42 a.m.

The spray area was about four kilometres north of the City of Courtenay, along Highway 19A.

The 94-hectare spray area will be treated with Foray 48B, which contains Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki (Btk). Btk is an ingredient that has been approved for the control of gypsy moth larvae in Canada since 1961.

Foray 48B, and other Btk formulations, received certification for acceptable use on certified organic farms by the Organic Materials Review Institute of Canada last month.

Btk is naturally present in urban, forest and agricultural soil across the province.

The province said that it does not harm humans, mammals, birds, fish, plants, reptiles, amphibians, bees or other insects, and affects caterpillars only after they have ingested it.

The next aerial spray is expected to take place in seven to ten days.

The City of Campbell River will see its first ground treatment at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15. Further details can be found through the provincial government’s website.