The state Department of Environmental Conservation has begun its efforts to suppress a new Southern Pine Beetle infestation on Long Island in the Henry’s Hollow woods near Hampton Bays.
Henry’s Hollow is an extensive area of forested state land stretching from Bellows Pond Road south of Sunrise Highway, north of The Pines development and Munn’s Pond, and west towards The Hills in East Quogue.
The infestation was first noticed in the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley, Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale, and the Henry’s Hollow Pine Barrens State Forest last fall, when trees began displaying the telltale signs of beetle infestation: a resin that forms popcorn-shaped clumps on the outside of the tree’s bark and s-shaped tunnels under the bark. When trees die after being infested with the beetles, they usually have reddish-brown needles.
The DEC plans to fell an estimated 1,000 infested pine trees in Henry’s Hollow this month, in the hopes of reducing the spread of the beetle into the pine barrens once the weather warms up.
The southern pine beetle, considered one of the most destructive forest pests in the country, attacks pitch pines, which are the predominant species in the Long Island pine barrens.
Standard management practices are to cut trees during cold weather when the populations are less active. The DEC has chosen not to use pesticides to control the bugs because it could contaminated the island’s richest source of pure drinking water, which lies beneath the pine barrens.
The DEC is urging anyone to report any recently dead pine on Long Island, especially if there are several trees grouped together. Sightings should be reported to the Forest Health Diagnostic Lab through the toll-free information line, 1.866.640.0652 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If possible, accompany any reports via email with photos of the trees, including close ups of any damage. An added item in the photo for scale, such as a penny, would help with identification.
More information about the southern pine beetle is online here.