With a spruce budworm outbreak expected in the next few years, the Maine Forest Service dramatically increased the number of traps set out for budworm moths this summer. A new outbreak already has begun in Quebec, where more than 8 million acres are infested, and it is expanding south. Maine and New Brunswick already have seen a sharp increase in the number of budworm moths caught in both pheromone and light traps.
Last year there were about 100 trap sites, but in June, MFS worked with landowners to place traps at about 400 sites, with cooperators tending from one to 100 (literally) sites, according to Charlene Donahue, MFS forest entomologist. Most have 10-20 sites. This covers most of the northern third of the state leaving out some of the farmland on the east side and running down into Washington county. The protocol is one site/township in stands of 25 acres or more of at least 50 percent pole-sized or better spruce/fir.
Cooperators are urged to send in trap locations — sooner rather than later! — and before the traps are picked up in late August. Donahue reports she has received information on trap locations from only one cooperator at this point. So if you are participating, please send the information to her as soon as possible. (See complete contact information below.)
The following entities are participating in running spruce budworm pheromone traps:
- Appalachian Mountain Club
- American Forest
- Baxter State Park
- H.C. Haynes
- Huber Resources
- J.D. Irving
- Katahdin Forest
- Materiax Blanchet
- Maine Forest Service
- North Maine Woods
- Orion Timberlands
- Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands
- Plum Creek Timberlands
- Prentiss & Carlisle
- Seven Islands Land Co.
- U.S. Forest Service
- Wagner Forest Management
Spruce budworm are always present in Maine’s forests, but roughly every 40 years there is a budworm population explosion, which results in serious feeding damage to Maine’s balsam fir and spruce. In the most recent epidemic, between 20 and 25 million cords of spruce and fir were killed between 1975 and 1988.
MFPC, the Maine Forest Service and the University of Maine are leading the effort to develop a strategy for to address a budworm infestation that is expected in the next few years. Nine task teams have been working for several months on recommendations that are due at the end of May. Dr. Bob Wagner of the University of Maine will then pull all the recommendations into a report that will be reviewed this fall. The teams are: Biology & Monitoring; Wood Supply Impacts; Economic Impacts; Protection Measures; Forest Management; Funding Strategies; Policy & Regulatory Implications; Public Communications & Outreach, and Research Needs.
Frequently asked questions about traps for spruce budworm moths:
- What is a pheromone trap? Pheromone traps are usedfor sampling, monitoring or determining the first appearance of a pest in an area. Because they lure budworm moths with sex pheromones, they are highly species-specific. The traps also are reusable, relatively inexpensive (approximately $14/trap – including killing agent and lure;), and easy to place (three traps/site). They attract budworm moths even when the moths are present at very low densities.
- Where do I get traps? MFS will provide traps at no cost to landowners.
- When would I place the traps? During the first three weeks of June, before the moth flight, which usually occurs from the end of June through July.
- Where and how do I place traps? Training will be provided, but three traps are generally placed on mature or pole-sized trees in uncut or lightly cut spruce-fir stands.
- How often will I need to check traps? Although a sub set of traps may be monitored daily or weekly to check for flights, the sites surveyed by landowners need only be visited twice: once to set out the traps and once to collect the moths and retrieve the traps.
- When do I collect the traps? From August to early October. Then you empty all three traps into a zip lock bag marked with the sample site location and send it to the MFS lab in Augusta. Keep the traps to put out next year.
- What happens to the samples collected? MFS entomologists analyze the numbers and locations of moths collected to assess the budworm population and the risk to spruce-fir.
- Who should I contact to participate or for more information? Charlene Donahue, 207-287-324,, Insect & Disease Laboratory, 168 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333.