The Big “Bug-Kill”

Toward the end of the summer of 1945 it was announced that the salvage situation “was in hand,” and the bulk of the “bug-kill” could be recovered and put to use at the pulp mills. Meantime, there was the problem of stopping the epidemic. Early in 1945, foresters and entomologists met in Portland to draw up plans for a cooperative insect control program under which united action could be taken against the looper as well as any other destructive forest insect. Under guidance of State Forester Nelson S. Rogers a bill enabling the state to participate in control work was submitted to the legislature in February. The measure was enacted under an emergency clause putting it into effect at once. Federal legislation along the same line had been recommended. Three-way cooperative effort – federal, state and private – is the ultimate goal. Rogers’ first step under the new law was to declare a zone of infestation in which the state could proceed with control work with the land owners paying 75 percent of the costs, the state 25 percent and furnishing management, and the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine contributing technical services in the field.
On that basis a project for spraying the threatened areas with powerful insecticides was set in motion. Central Aircraft of Yakima, Washington, a firm specializing in farm dusting and spraying work for twelve years, was hired to apply the chemicals. For the bulk of the job it was lead arsenate. An airstrip was fashioned on a long-abandoned beach golf course. Part of the runway had to be planked, but since the spray Rodent Control Cost pilots were old hands at the game and could get by with a minimum of facilities, the strip in no way resembled an airport. A mixing plant was set up. Headquarters and a field laboratory were set up; incubators, rearing cages and other gadgets were installed for close scientific study of the insect and parasites. Hemlock limbs around were draped with small cloth cages fencing in loopers for development data.
Scattered through the infestation region were nearly 100 horizontal test screens, on which the catch gave the clue to how many loopers perished. In mid-June spraying started. Two planes carried chemicals in a front cockpit tank. The pilots flew just over the treetops, each trip spraying a strip 60 to 75 feet wide and about four miles long. Results were good. The How To Mix Pesticides test screens set out as counting slabs in the looper morgue indicated an average kill of 4,300,000 larvae per acre on one representative area. Thus, with 12.000 acres sprayed, the total mortality mounted into astronomical figures, or as one wag put it, “a looper for every salmon that has come up the Columbia River since Lewis and Clark came this way in 1805”