FREDERICTON (CNB) – A limited biological control program will be conducted this summer on Crown forest land in southern New Brunswick to combat an unprecedented outbreak of the balsam fir sawfly. Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup made the announcement today.

"This program will consist of the aerial application of a biological agent that is based on a naturally occurring virus affecting only sawflies,'' said Northrup. "Abietiv has been tested and approved by Health Canada and was used for a decade in Newfoundland. It is effective against the sawfly but research has shown it does not affect humans, other animals, birds, bees, other insects, fish or aquatic organisms, or plants.''

Egg surveys conducted in southern New Brunswick last fall revealed populations of the balsam fir sawfly capable of causing severe defoliation in young balsam fir trees and sometimes tree mortality.  Defoliation leads to reduced growth of trees and reductions in the available wood supply.

Department of Natural Resources pest management experts say the infestation levels are the highest-ever recorded for the balsam fir sawfly in New Brunswick. About 182,000 hectares (450,000 acres) of forest land has been identified with measurable populations of the sawfly, including about 30,000 hectares (74,100 acres) with moderate to high populations.

The control program will take place in early-mid July on about 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of Crown forest land in the vicinity of Saddleback Mountain, about 20 kilometres south of Sussex.

Forest Protection Ltd., a private company that provides fire management, pest management and aerial surveys in the province, will carry out the aerial operations under the supervision of the department's Forest Pest Management Section.

Northrup said detailed information on the control program will be published several weeks in advance of spraying. Information will also be available at department offices and on the department's website.

Abietiv is a federally registered biological control agent that is based on a naturally occurring virus in the balsam fir sawfly and was developed specifically for use against this insect.

It was developed and registered by the Canadian Forest Service and was used experimentally from 2000 to 2005 and then operationally from 2006 to 2009 by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to treat balsam fir sawfly infested areas.

Abietiv is produced by a Fredericton-based company, Sylvar Technologies Inc. The registration for Abietiv is held by the Canadian Forest Service and is licensed to Forest Protection Ltd. on a royalty basis.

Additional information on the use of Abietiv to control the balsam fir sawfly can be found at the Natural Resources Canada website or the Sylvar Technologies Inc. website.


●    Natural Resources Canada
●    Sylvar Technologies Inc.