On the Lookout for Destructive Beetles on Long Island

Examining a tree with beetle damage. | Daniel Brennan photo for the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Examining a tree with beetle damage. | Daniel Brennan photo for the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex

The New York State DEC is looking for citizen scientists to keep an eye out for damage from the southern pine beetle, after damage from the beetles was found in three parks on Long Island: Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge in Shirley, Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale, and the Henry’s Hollow Pine Barrens State Forest on the border of Flanders and East Quogue.

This is the first record of the southern pine beetle in New York, and scientists believe the beetles most likely colonized Long Island from the New Jersey Pinelands, where they have been abundant in recent years.

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Damage caused by the southern pine beetle. | Daniel Brennan photo for the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex

The beetles usually attack pitch pines, but also attack other pines, hemlocks and spruce trees. They can kill trees within two to four months of the initial infestation.

In the early phases, the trees resist the attacks by secreting a resin that is a tell-tale sign of the beetle’s presence. The resin forms popcorn-shaped clumps on the outside of the tree’s bark and s-shaped tunnels under the bark.

Trees that have recently died after an infestation usually have reddish-brown needles.

The DEC is asking the public to report recently killed pine trees with signs of the infestation to the NYS DEC Forest Health Information Line at 1-866-640-0652 or e-mailing foresthealth@dec.ny.gov. They are also asking the public to send pictures of suspect pine trees along with their emails.

The DEC, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and and other agencies are in the process of developing a response plan to deal with the infestation.

 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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