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Landowners’ help needed with budworm trapping

In June, with the help of landowners, MFS plans to increase pheromone trapping sites to 500, to better monitor the budworm population.

In June, with the help of landowners, MFS plans to increase pheromone trapping sites to 500, to better monitor the budworm population.

With a spruce budworm outbreak expected in the next few years, the Maine Forest Service plans to dramatically increase the number of traps set out for for 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.

Click on the photo above for a larger version of the map where the Maine Forest Service hopes to place budworm traps. In the townships with cross-hatching, landowners already have agreed to place traps. Landowners are needed in the areas without cross-hatching.

Click on the photo above for a larger version of the map where the Maine Forest Service hopes to place budworm traps. In the townships with cross-hatching, landowners already have agreed to place traps. Landowners are needed in the areas without cross-hatching.

In June, with the help of landowners, the MFS plans to increase the number of pheromone trapping sites from about 100 last year to around 500 this year to better monitor the budworm population. Many landowners have already agreed to participate, but more are needed to work with MFS staff to place these traps for maximum coverage. Information is provided below about what trapping involves and how to contact MFS if you’re willing to help

“After I discount for the number of traps that will be placed by the MFS and U.S. Forest Service,” Dave Struble, state entomologist, said in an email, we’re looking for approximately 300 traps in the norther zone, 130 traps in the central zone,  and 15 traps in the Down East zone. If folks can let us know which towns their company would be willing to trap, then we can assign and package up supplies for each landowner.”

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Where do I get traps? MFS will provide traps at no cost to landowners.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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