Early Morning Motorway Alert

14 January 2002

Early morning motorists using the Northwestern motorway could be in for a surprise on the weekend of Saturday 19 January.

A low flying helicopter will target aerial spray Traherne Island which runs either side the motorway near the Rosebank interchange. The exercise is part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's programme against painted apple moth. The island is infested with the moth's caterpillars.

Signs to tell motorists about the helicopter activity will be placed along the motorway before spray days. Spraying will start as early as possible in the morning and only take about 20 minutes.

Motorists are being asked to keep their eyes on the road and keep moving. If they want to watch the helicopters they should exit the motorway and get a vantage point well off the road.

The spray being used is called Foray 48B, which contains an organism found naturally in soil, water and air. It only affects the caterpillars of butterflies and moths and it is used to control them around the world. No special health precautions need to be taken but MAF suggests motorists wind up their windows if the helicopter is close by in case there is spray drift. The spray is slightly sticky but washes off in rain or water. If it lands on the windscreen, the washers and wipers will remove it.

The targeted aerial spraying is part of a range of measures MAF is taking to control the moth pest with minimum impact on people and the environment. Because of its leaf-eating caterpillar, the moth poses a big risk to New Zealand's forests and horticulture.

The helicopter will also target aerial spray inland along the Whau River and its tributaries, part of Waikumete Cemetery and the Avondale Peninsula. Six to seven sprays are anticipated in total with a three-week break between each session. The aerial spraying programme will be reviewed after three successful sprays.

The spraying will only go ahead if weather conditions are right, with light winds and no rain. Auckland's radio stations are running regular updates on the spray programme and spray days. Motorists can also contact MAF's free phone line if they need more information on 0800 96 96 96.

For more information please contact:
Mary-Ann Crawford MAF Communications Ph: 09 913 1827 Mb: 021 648 117

How safe is the spray?

An independent health risk assessment carried out by the Auckland District Health Board has concluded that after 35 years of use, Foray 48B has never been implicated in human infection or any other significant health conditions. Btk only affects the caterpillars of butterflies and moths.

Are extra precautions needed?

Generally, no special care needs to be taken to protect health. However, we accept some people are sensitive to sprats and are concerned. If you are in the direct spray zone and want to take a more cautious approach, stay inside with windows and doors shut and cover open fireplaces with newspaper during the spraying operation. Stay inside for at least half an hour afterwards. If you come into contact with the spray - wash if off with water.

What about my garden?

Foray 48B is water soluble, so outside surfaces like BBQ tables, home grown fruit or vegetables can be washed with water - just as you would usually do. No special precautions need to be taken with swimming pools - just normal pool hygiene routines.



Last Updated: 06 October 2010

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