A hemlock looper.

Attack of the Hemlock Looper

An outbreak of hemlock looper, a small brown moth, this year could be a sign of a bigger one next year.

Well, it’s not really an attack. It’s more of an infestation of sorts and a nuisance at most.

Those small, brownish moths all over town are the hemlock looper – a moth that appears about once every ten years, spreads like crazy and then dies off almost as quickly.

The Times Review wrote about them in May when the Ministry of Forests announced it would be spraying several thousand hectors of forest to combat them.

The larvae of the hemlock looper likes to feed on foliage and in an outbreak year hordes of them will feast on the tree tops, damaging the trees and potentially killing them.

“It can kill a tree in one year and certainly two, if a tree is severely defoliated,” Art Stock  an entomologist with the BC Forest Service. told the Times Review in May.

Recently, the moths have been spotted all over the place in Revelstoke. There were dozens of them on the walls outside the Times Review office throughout the week, sparking our curiosity as to how severe the outbreak was this summer.

“What the moth’s mean to us is that the defoliation of the forest is over for the year,” said Gregg Walker, a forester with Parks Canada. “The larvae – the little caterpillars – do the deforestation of the trees. The moths are little flying, breeding units.”

So, is this something to be worried about? According to Walker, this may only the start of an outbreak that could peak next year.

“We’re seeing some moths but we’re not seeing the number you would see if you were expecting an enormous population outbreak,” he said. “People who were around in the summer of 2003, and I was so I remember this, there were ten-times as many moths as there is this summer. They were absolutely thick.”

Hemlock loopers are all over the walls outside the Times Review office, and many other places in Revelstoke. Alex Cooper/Revelstoke Times Review

On Wednesday he conducted an aerial survey of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks to examine the extent of the outbreak. What they uncovered was that there was light defoliation in pockets, and it was worse in Glacier National Park.

Foresters like Walker view hemlock looper outbreaks as a natural aspect of forest health. The larvae chew away on leaves, creating dead tree tops that fall to the ground and create animal habitat. Trees that weren’t too badly damaged will grow a new top.

“I’m not really worried about it unless it has an impact on somebody’s property or something substantive like that,” said Walker.

 

Just Posted

Priorities highlighted for continued tourism growth in Revelstoke

The City of Revelstoke has released their Resort Development Strategy for 2019-2021.… Continue reading

MP Wayne Stetski calls for urgent climate action

Government Business No. 29 motion made by Catherine McKenna, minister of environment.… Continue reading

Stoked on Science: Why didn’t the mountain ash bloom?

Question: I’m sure I’m not the only person in Revelstoke who has… Continue reading

Revelstoke cadets host 67th annual Ceremonial Review

Revelstoke’s 2458 Rocky Mountain Ranger Army Cadets hosted their 67th annual Ceremonial… Continue reading

Construction and wildfires in the area

Forecast from Environment Canada: Today: A few showers ending this morning then… Continue reading

Murray McLauchlan delights Okanagan crowd

Canadian music icon puts on wonderful two-hour show at Performing Arts Centre

Rose Valley Rd. fire in West Kelowna has now been extinguished

West Kelowna Fire Chief says first two grass fires Tuesday were human caused

Life’s work of talented Shuswap sculptor leads to leukemia

Former Salmon Arm resident warns of dangers of chemical contact

Shuswap car dealership seeks return of unique stolen Jeep

The red 1989 four-by-four was taken from Salmon Arm GM’s lot early Monday morning.

College investigates Okanagan physiotherapist

Stephen Witvoet’s matters are currently before the courts

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

MPs hear retired South Okanagan nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Public weighs in Okanagan rail trail parking development

“It was a great evening to interact with the community and hear the input for the property”

Most Read