Research Blog

Looking for updates and to follow the progress of the research? Lead researcher Dr. Rob Johns (Natural Resources Canada) and his team will provide project status updates on testing, results, analysis and updates on spruce budworm populations throughout the course of the project. 




The carbon consequence of an infestation

Linking Spruce Budworm Impacts to the Greenhouse Gas Cycle in Forests Almost all grade-school children learn that trees absorb carbon-dioxide (CO2) and release oxygen (O2). I remember this lesson sticking the first time I heard it sometime in the 1980’s. I need oxygen and that comes from trees, therefore I need trees. Oxygen is still very important but in the time between the 1980s and today the conversation has shifted to the other side of the equation. Forests absorb carbon dioxide and when they are healthy they do it on a very big scale. Trees store carbon in their roots, trunks, and...

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What’s happening with the Forest Pest Management Team this Season:

The spring and summer are busy months for the Forest Pest Management Team of ERD.  From the day that seasonal staff arrives in June they get to work setting SBW pheromone traps throughout the province. These traps are used as early warning signs of population growth and you can read more about them in one of our previous blog posts. After the pheromone traps are hung, our staff switches focus to two vital components of the EIS program, monitoring insect and tree development to optimize treatment timing; and then conducting efficacy sampling to assess the impact of the treatments. Once...

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Spruce Budworm Treatment Concludes and Research Begins for 2017

Another year of experimental treatments for the Early Intervention Strategy (EIS) have come to pass. The 2017 treatments began on June 13th, when the spruce budworm larvae were entering their mid instar developmental stage. This timing is important as the insecticides we use must be eaten by the larvae to have an affect. This year our experimental treatment area covered 150 000 ha. It is difficult to predict how long it takes to complete any treatment project but its dependant on the number of aircraft and the weather conditions encountered during the targeted instar development  – in general, a combination of...

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Provincial Budworm Research Activity Update, Spring 2017

It’s another busy season for the Forest Pest Management group (FPMG) at the Department of Energy and Resource Development (ERD). Our staff once again is taking to the roads and woods of NB to set up 300 pheromone traps across 100 sites throughout the province. These traps aid in the early detection of spruce budworm population growth and movement, and in some cases, can help identify large-scale dispersal events if and when they occur (you can find out more on that here.   Detecting Budworm Defoliation  In late June, we will start to map signs of spruce defoliation from the air during our annual...

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Mass dispersal

For many people, the mention of an “insect plague” brings to mind unnerving thoughts of massive locust swarms sweeping like a storm across the land to devour all crops and vegetation. Of course, locust outbreaks aren’t much of an issue for Canadians – but, we do have our own version of an “insect plague” looking to sweep through our region. On several cloudless evenings from July 20 through 25, 2016, weather radar detected moving plumes of spruce budworm moths coming from Quebec into New Brunswick (Fig. 1). Moths are attracted to bright lights, and as a result, these plumes tended...

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SBW Early Intervention Strategy Workshop – February 22nd, 2017

The 2017 Healthy Forest Partnership (HFP) Annual Workshop, held in beautiful Miramichi, New Brunswick, was a great day filled with exciting research updates, new information, and great questions from the audience! Attended by over 200 people for the first time some folks connected virtually thanks to the use of WebEx technology.  Members of the HFP gave updates on a wide range of topics, including the current range of the spruce budworm outbreak, recent successes and challenges in slowing the spread of budworm through Atlantic Canada (aka the Early Intervention Strategy), the potential impact of the mass moth dispersal event of...

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Treatments having an effect in northern New Brunswick

Last week while working in our 2016 treatment blocks we took this picture of a balsam fir branch that helps to nicely illustrate the effectiveness of the bacterial insecticide Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) against spruce budworm. This particular branch was collected from an experimental site in the midst of ‘hot spot’ identified in 2014. While feeding wasn’t altogether halted in 2015 populations in the area were suppressed significantly for the next year, resulting in clean new growth for 2016 (see above picture). Of course, the Early Intervention Strategy doesn’t aim to suppress current season defoliation, by instead aims to diminishing...

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Spruce Budworm Early Intervention Strategy Update – Recent Moth Activity in New Brunswick

As you may be aware, the Restigouche area is currently experiencing high populations of spruce budworm moth activity. Radar and monitoring indicates that these moths are likely immigrants from Quebec, both from the north shore and the Matapédia Valley.   The North Shore and Gaspe regions of Quebec are currently experiencing a significant infestation from the spruce budworm, which is now at Quebec/New Brunswick border.  Research is focused in targeted areas in Northern New Brunswick close to the Quebec border, where detailed sampling in 2013, 2014, and 2015 showed that budworm populations are present and increasing. 2016 areas of focus included locations...

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Pheromone Simulant Treatments Concludes in NB for 2016

Part of our early intervention strategy involves testing a spruce budworm pheromone simulant. On July 9th, the final application of dry pheromone flakes was made on two 500 hectare blocks south of Campbellton, New Brunswick. This treatment tests how well a spruce budworm pheromone simulant can disrupt the budworm’s mating cycle, and thus reduce population numbers.  For more specific information, maps of the above treatment areas can be found at: www.healthyforestparnership.ca.

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Tebufenozide and Btk Treatments Conclude in NB for 2016

We completed two of the three planned treatment types by June 26th. This covered areas in northern New Brunswick totalling roughly 60 000 hectares. Our team is currently assessing branches from trees in all areas to determine effects on local populations of spruce budworm. The last treatment type, mating disruption of spruce budworm moths using a pheromone simulant, still remains and will be carried out south of Campbellton, New Brunswick over two 500 hectare areas in early July. Spruce budworm are currently in the latter stages of larval development and will soon be pupating into the adult stage. Citizen Scientists in the northern part...

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Budworm Impact Calculator App for Smartphone and Tablets Released - June 1, 2016

To help woodlot owners make management decisions, the Healthy Forest Partnership (HFP) has developed a smartphone application to estimate how much volume could be lost due to spruce budworm (SBW) on a woodlot, on a stand by stand basis at varying levels of defoliation.  The application works on most smartphones and mobile devices. There are currently large areas of SBW defoliation in southern Quebec that have led to dead and dying trees.  To date, there has been only a small amount of defoliation in northern New Brunswick.  Monitoring by the HFP indicates that populations are increasing but they have not reached...

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SBW Early Intervention Strategy Workshop - March 23, 2016

The 2016 Healthy Forest Partnership Annual General Meeting held on February 17, in Bathurst, NB was a huge success with lots of great information and discussion. Many people from across the province attended despite the winter storm that hit the previous day.  During the morning session, presenters talked about the research that has been conducted over the past year and its results. Other highlights included the successful implementation of the new Budworm Tracker - Citizen Science program to monitor spruce budworm, and the projected treatment areas for 2016. The day ended with some good questions and discussion between the attendees...

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What is branch washing and how does it relate to the “L2 Survey”? - January 29, 2016

By Drew Carleton, Entomologist, Forest Management Branch, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Government of New Brunswick If you have been following our scientist’s blog entries, you may have seen the terms “branch washing” and “L2 Survey” and thought to yourself, “What are they talking about?” Branch washing is just as it sounds, a process whereby branches are washed in a special solution to remove the unnoticeable insects that might be hiding on them. This allows us to count the insects and get an idea of the greater population trends. Branch washing is the process used in the “L2 Survey” to determine...

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A DNR Spruce Budworm Research Summary - January 8, 2016

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...

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So what is a pheromone and how do they work? - January 7, 2016

By Drew Carleton, Entomologist, Forest Management Branch, Department of Natural Resources, Government of New Brunswick If you have been following the Healthy Forest Partnership website and our efforts to develop, test and monitor the effectiveness of an Early Intervention Strategy for spruce budworm, then you have likely heard our bloggers refer to pheromones. With all our chatter, you might be wondering what exactly a pheromone is and how we are using them. The answer to that is actually pretty straightforward, the real question is how and why we use them – that is what really takes some expertise! Pheromones are chemicals produced...

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