Biology Question #344

Meghan, a 13 year old female from the Internet asks on February 22, 1998,

Do you have any information about Canadian scientist Dr. W. A. Smirnoff? He works on the spruce budworm problem.

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The answer

Murray Strome answered on February 22, 1998

Dr. Smirnoff was a research scientist at the Canadian Forest Service Laurentian Forestry Centre in Quebec for many years. Since his retirement several years ago, until recently, he was a Scientist Emeritus at that laboratory. He is now in his 80s.

Dr. Smirnoff is renowned for his pioneering efforts in the development of operationally effective techniques for the application of the non-chemical insecticide BT for the control of Spruce Budworm. Unlike chemical pesticides, BT is harmless to all organisms except the target insect (or its close relatives). It does not leave any harmful toxic residue, and thus causes no ill effects on any other plants or animals. However, to be effective, it must be applied at a specific time in the target pest's life cycle. It must be applied at appropriate levels and under very critical weather conditions. Dr. Smirnoff was the scientist who first developed the techniques for the effective, operational aerial spraying of BT for Spruce Budworm control, especially in Quebec.

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