Newmarket residents line up for free burlap to battle invasive moth outbreak
June 14, 2021
The Town of Newmarket has had an “overwhelming” response to its burlap giveaway as residents seek ways to manage an outbreak of the invasive moth Lymantria dispar dispar (LDD).
The municipality kicked off its curbside giveaway June 9, resulting in long lineups of vehicles at the municipal offices and along Mulock Drive, prompting the municipality to move the pickup to the Magna Centre.
Residents can get three burlap sheets and a guide to how to use them. They can be affixed to trees to gather up the LDD caterpillars to dispose of them, usually in soapy water.
"It's been a very strong reception," Mayor John Taylor said. "I'm pleased with it because it's going to take the collective effort of the town to try to minimize the impact."
LDD numbers are spiking in the region and the caterpillars threaten vulnerable trees. The insect population is expected to be significant again in 2022.
Due to the demand, Taylor said the municipality is expanding the initiative to weekends.
"We heard loud and clear for some people they were having a tough time making it for those (weekday) hours," Taylor said. "We were more than happy to find a way to expand the program."
Municipalities and residents are taking measures to combat the insects, with the Town of Aurora also offering burlap giveaways. York Region is working on the issue, according to its environmental services commissioner Erin Mahoney.
Taylor said most municipalities are avoiding spraying insecticides and he encourages residents to do likewise.
“As a town, we’re trying to use approaches that avoid other negative environmental impacts,” he said.
Director of corporate communications Wanda Bennett said the LDD caterpillars are beginning to enter the pupal stage. Information on how to best combat the insects as they change will be available at newmarket.ca/lddmoth.
The Newmarket burlap giveaway will run from June 12 and 13 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Magna Centre. The giveaway has been running from noon to 3 p.m. on weekdays and is scheduled to go until June 18, though supplies are limited daily.