By Drew Carleton, Entomologist, Forest Management Branch, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Government of New Brunswick

It has been a busy season for the Forest Pest Management team at the NBDNR. A crew of 13 full and/or part-time staff have been on the trail of the budworm since the spring. In mid-June, crews set-up a network of ~132 pheromone traps throughout the province to monitor budworm populations (learn more about pheromones here).

In late June and early July, two of our senior staffers took to the skies to survey for signs of budworm feeding damage, logging almost 65 hours of flight time.  Ground crews were also in the forests of northern NB looking for budworm defoliation that our aerial crews might not see.   This work helps to indicate the areas where populations might be rising.  The air and ground surveillance revealed several areas of light defoliation, but did not find any widespread budworm defoliation.

In mid-August, once the moth flight season was over, crews got busy collecting the pheromone traps to count the male moths captured.  As expected, northern NB had the highest number of moths caught, while traps in southern NB caught relatively few. This indicates that the focus for spruce budworm early intervention research will remain in the northern part of the province for 2016.

At the same time as the pheromone trap retrievals, our crews also began the intensive task of branch sampling with help from industry partners in the Healthy Forest Partnership and the Canadian Forest Service. These branches are “washed” and counts of second instar larvae are recorded. This process, referred to as the L2 survey, is completed annually in conjunction with the pheromone trap survey and is our most accurate tool to estimate population trends across the province and from year-to-year.

In addition to providing population data, the results from the L2 survey will also be used to help the Healthy Forest Partnership identify potential experimental sites and blocks for the upcoming season. This survey is no small effort; roughly 5800 branches were processed this year!  But, the staff are a dedicated, hard-working group and completed the L2 survey in November.

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