Track­ing the spruce bud­worm

Town to par­tic­i­pate in bud­worm track­ing pro­gram

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Front Page - BY JOSH HEALEY

Cit­i­zen sci­ences from across the At­lantic prov­inces, and in­clud­ing cen­tral New­found­land, are on the look­out for spruce bud­worm.

GAN­DER, NL — The Town of Gan­der will once again be par­tak­ing in the spruce bud­worm track­ing pro­gram.

The pro­gram, which seeks to mon­i­tor the rise and spread of bud­worms, is en­ter­ing its third year.

Ac­cord­ing to Dan Lav­i­gne, su­per­vi­sor for in­sect and dis­ease con­trol and mon­i­tor­ing sec­tion with Forestry and Agri­food, New­found­land has rea­son to be in­vested in this pro­gram.

“Ob­vi­ously, we’re very con­cerned about bud­worms con­sid­er­ing what’s hap­pen­ing in Eastern Canada. Bud­worms have been mov­ing into por­tions of New Brunswick,” said Lav­i­gne. “If you look at what his­tor­i­cally has hap­pened, start­ing in 1972, 90 per cent of our spruce fir for­est was af­fected.”

Lav­i­gne ex­plained that this out­break de­stroyed 25 years of lum­ber. He is­con­cerned that the same could hap­pen again given the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of bud­worms. The most re­cent out­break be­gan in Que­bec in 2006 and has been spread­ing east­ward.

In fact, on July 18, a hive of the in­sects took off from the Gaspé area so large that it was spot­ted by radar.

“We know from stud­ies in the ‘70s that they recorded groups fly­ing all the way from New Brunswick to cen­tral New­found­land,” said Lav­i­gne.

Spruce bud­worms are widely con­sid­ered the most de­struc­tive in­sects in North Amer­ica.

The real dam­age is caused by the cater­pil­lars, which feed on the fir and spruce nee­dles.

Out­breaks can last sev­eral years, de­stroy­ing tens of mil­lions of hectares of trees and cu­mu­late in de­fo­li­a­tion for large ar­eas.

Heather Spicer, the pro­vin­cial leader for the pro­gram, noted that there are 50 par­tic­i­pants in­volved in track­ing this year.

Ap­prox­i­mately 400 cit­i­zen sci­en­tists across six prov­inces will be work­ing to an­a­lyze and man­age the spread of spruce bud­worms.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF BUDWORMTRACKER.CA

A vol­un­teer sets one of the spruce bud­worm track­ers. Over 50 track­ers and 400 cit­i­zens sci­en­tists are par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s pro­gram, in­clud­ing the Town of Gan­der.

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