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Current epidemics

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Select a region to view the sectors defoliated by forest insects with a socioeconomic impact that have reached an epidemic level in Quebec. SOPFIM has been mandated by the provincial government to help reduce the impacts generated by insect epidemics through programs of aerial spraying using organic insecticide. Until now, SOPFIM’s interventions have targeted defoliating insects that have been historically identified with large-scale cyclical infestations, such as the spruce budworm (SBW), the Swaine jack pine sawfly (SJPS), the jack pine budworm (JPB) and the eastern hemlock looper (EHL).

Although the jack pine budworm has kept a very low profile since 1983, it nevertheless continues to be a potential threat on account of the major land areas that have been reforested with jack pine as well as recurrent epidemics in Ontario. In contrast with the other above-mentioned insects, there is no organic insecticide available for controlling the damage caused by the Swaine jack pine sawfly (should the need arise), which effectively places a limitation on the use of aerial spraying as a means of intervention in Quebec. Although the forest tent caterpillar (FTC) has made some spectacular incursions in several regions of Quebec, it is not viewed as representing an insect having serious impacts. To find out more about these insects, please consult the section forest pests.


(01) Bas-Saint-Laurent (02) Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean (03) Capitale-Nationale (04) Mauricie (05) Estrie (06) Montréal (07) Outaouais (08) Abitibi-Témiscamingue (09) Côte-Nord (10) Nord-du-Québec (11) Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine (12) Chaudière-Appalaches (13) Laval (14) Lanaudière (15) Laurentides (16) Montérégie (17) Centre-du-Québec Tout le Québec

The decision to intervene during epidemics

Aerial insecticide spray programs are planned and carried out by SOPFIM at the request of the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources. Even when major areas may be hit with defoliation, the decision to intervene or not is based on the anticipated socioeconomic impacts and the entire range of means available for reducing impacts on forest users – all this in keeping with the provincial government’s budgetary priorities. Within the framework of its overall strategy, the government of Quebec decides when, where and what types of intervention will be accorded priority.

Where, when and how to intervene?

The purpose of aerial insecticide spray programs is to protect those forests that are most vulnerable to attacks by insect pests. As a result, SOPFIM is only authorized to treat highly specific sectors that comply with pre-established forest, operational and entomological criteria that have themselves been assigned a rank by the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources. The ultimate objective of applying organic insecticide is to keep the forest alive until the epidemic recedes as the result of natural control agents.

Make mine organic, please

Quebec is the first province in Canada to have entirely converted to organic pesticides for the purpose of controlling the damage caused by forest insect pests. Since 1986, no chemical insecticide has been authorized for use against the spruce budworm, the leading insect problem affecting Quebec forests. In addition, thanks to provincial government’s Forest Protection Strategy, the use of chemical pesticides has been eliminated since 2001.