Fisheries and Land Resources

Forestry and Agrifoods

2013 Results and Outlook for 2014

Below is the summary from the 2013 report. Here is the full report: NL Pest Report 2013 (10 MB)

Summary - 2013

Control Program: To facilitate the protection of areas forecast to have moderate-severe HL defoliation in 2013 and prevent the spread of HL populations into other critical forest management areas, an aerial control program with a total of 4,691 ha (2,030 ha - St. Albans; 2,661 ha - Daniels Harbour) was approved and conducted under a Pesticide Operators Licence (13-049) issued by the Department of Environment and Conservation. As per Licence requirements public notice was provided through local newspapers. Public notice and maps and notifications of treatments and block openings were also provided through the Departments web site. Treatments were conducted out of the Bay d'Espoir and Port au Choix airstrips, and from a satellite landing strip north of Daniels Harbour. A total of six blocks - two in the St. Albans and four in the Daniels Harbour area were treated with one application of B.t.k. (Foray 76B) at the label rate of 2 L/ha or 40 BIU/ha. The opening of blocks for treatment coincided with insect and host-tree sampling indicating HL larvae were predominantly 2nd instar and the current foliage on bF trees was completely flushed and elongated providing good target deposition. Treatments were completed in the St. Albans area over a two-day period (July 7-8). In contrast, high winds in the Daniels Harbour area delayed treatments (July 16, 19) and resulted in 300 ha of one block being left untreated. Pre and post-spray larval and defoliation assessments indicated good efficacy or treatment results with 63-94% larval mortality occurring in treated blocks versus 15-27% in untreated plots. The percent current defoliation in treated blocks was also ¼ to ½ that seen in untreated plots. A reduction in HL pheromone trap catches and fall egg survey results also provided an indication of treatment success. Beyond providing support to the 2013 HL control program, IDMC personnel also conducted work to maintain the equipment and infrastructure needed to ensure DNR's operational readiness to carry-out control actions as and when needed. As conducted in other years IDMC staff also provided valuable assistance and support to other Departmental programs (i.e. Fire, Forest Roads, and Districts) - additional details on these support related activities are provided.

Weather / Seasonal Phenology: Weather information, specifically daily maximum and minimum temperatures are used annually to calculate degree-day accumulations. The 2013 degree-day accumulations were compared to those from previous years known to be warmer or cooler. Depending on the location in the Province, results indicated that 2013 was more of a typical or normal year with development approximately 1- 2 weeks behind that observed in warmer years (1999, 2012). Operational logistics for control and the timing of all surveys were adjusted accordingly.

Eastern Hemlock Looper (HL): Given the decline observed in HL populations in recent years, a network of 50 pheromone trapping locations was established on the island in 2011. In 2012 it was expanded to 105 locations on the island and 7 locations in Labrador. In 2013, pheromone trapping was conducted at 106 locations on the island and 7 locations in Labrador. Two Unitrap® pheromone traps, each containing 10 μg HL lures from Contech and one Vaportape killing strip were placed at each location prior to adult moth flight. The number of male moths caught in traps is used to detect and monitor subtle changes in populations even when populations are at low or non-detectable levels based on traditional branch sampling methods used to look for other life stages. In 2013, the overall mean trap catch was up only slightly and there was also a small increase in the number of trapping locations found to have an average of more than 50 moths per trap. They included trapping locations in the Hampden-White Bay, Goose Arm, and River of Ponds areas where trap catches increased by two arbitrary ranges. Despite these increases, HL populations still remain at low levels across the Province. In localized areas (Zinc Mine Rd on N. Peninsula; N. of St. Albans on south coast) where average trap catches were notably higher (318, 491 moths/trap) in 2012, trap catches were greatly reduced as a result of treatments conducted in 2013. Unlike in 2012, there were no locations on the island in 2013 where trap catches were greater than 200 moths per trap. In Labrador, excluding one trap south of Goose Bay with an average of 202 moths per trap, the remaining traps only had an average of 2 to 18 adult moths. An aerial overview survey was conducted in mid-August to map the severity and extent of damage found in the Province. No HL defoliation was observed in Labrador - this is the fifth straight year that no defoliation has been observed since the collapse of the outbreak in 2009. Similarly, no defoliation was observed anywhere on the island in 2013 including areas along the Connaigre Peninsula and in St. Albans where feeding damage caused by HL and a complex of other defoliators was observed in 2012. Results from the fall forecast once again indicate that HL populations remain at nil to low levels across most of the island. Only a few areas (Marine Drive Park, Middle 3 Island Pond, Tors Cove Pond) on the east side of the Avalon north and south of St. John's had egg densities forecast to cause M-S defoliation in 2014. Supplementary sampling conducted in these areas indicates that these populations are quite localized and contain little commercial forest. These areas will continue to be monitored in 2014. In Labrador HL populations remain at low levels with no eggs found at any of the 33 locations assessed, including those sampled south of Goose Bay near the trapping location with 202 moths per trap.

Eastern Spruce Budworm (SBW): The last outbreak of this major forest pest ended on the island in the mid 1980's, however, SBW populations have been active in the Goose Bay area in Labrador for the last seven years. A large outbreak of this pest is currently underway in Quebec along the north shore of the St. Lawrence and Gaspé. Given the potential of SBW moths reaching the Province under favourable weather conditions, in 2000 a network of 49 pheromone traps was established to monitor low density populations on the island. This network was increased to 100 locations in 2012. In 2013, traps were placed at 108 trapping locations on the island. In Labrador, traps were placed at 10 locations in the Goose Bay area. At each location two Unitrap® traps, each containing one 330 μg SBW flex lure from Synergy Semiochemicals Corp. and a Vaportape killing strip, were placed. With the help of cooperators, four trapping locations along the west coast were routinely monitored to record trap catches more frequently over the season to try to determine if moths caught in these traps included those migrating from other areas. Trapping results on the island in 2013 indicated another increase in the average number of SBW moths caught per trap with trap catches increasing significantly on the northern Peninsula. At one location (Port Saunders) where routine monitoring of moth catches was being conducted, a peak in trap catches occurred two weeks prior to local moth flight. This peak also corresponded to a large SBW migration event that occurred in Quebec in mid-July suggesting immigration occurred. This is the second year that immigration of SBW moths has occurred on the island - this is significant as immigration of moths can lead to population increases as control agents (i.e. predators, parasites, disease) normally responsible for keeping local populations in check eventually become overwhelmed. Despite the increases in trap catches noted on the island, fortunately no defoliation from aerial or ground surveys was detected. Conversely, in Labrador the area of M-S defoliation increased from 33,255 ha in 2012 to 82,231 ha in 2013. This is the seventh straight year that damage has been observed and this is the largest area of SBW defoliation recorded in the Goose Bay during this period. Once again more M-S defoliation occurred east of Goose Bay around Mud Lake, the Carter Basin and the Kenamu River, and along the south shore of Lake Melville in the vicinity of the English River. Small pockets of damage also continue to persist in Northwest River and Sheshatshiu areas. Damage was also observed along the Churchill and Goose Rivers. Fall egg mass survey results indicate that populations will remain active again around the Goose Bay area in 2014. Where this will be the eighth straight year of active populations and given the colder overwinter temperatures experienced in 2013-14, questions around the on-going persistence of the current outbreak were raised. On the island, fall egg mass survey results around locations with higher pheromone trap catches detected a small number of egg masses in the Rocky Harbour, Daniels Harbour, and Belburns areas. Populations of this important insect pest need to be closely monitored again in 2014 given the on-going expansion of populations in the Province of Quebec and Atlantic Canada region.

Balsam Fir Sawfly (BFS): The last outbreak of this pest occurred on the island from 1991 to 2009. At present there is no pheromone lure for monitoring low density populations of this insect. One of the primary means for detecting this pest is through observations of damage made by IDMC staff and reports received from DNR District staff, forest industry or the general public. In 2011, damage from BFS was reported by District 7 staff on the Connaigre Peninsula. An aerial overview survey conducted by IDMC staff detected 13000 ha of M-S defoliation in predominantly scrub forest stands in this area. In 2012, the area defoliated on the Connaigre Peninsula increased to 28078 ha with damage not only caused by BFS but other defoliators - an additional 1167 ha of M-S defoliation was also observed in the St. Albans area. In 2013, as expected populations declined on the Connaigre Peninsula with no defoliation detected, however, populations remained active in the St. Albans area with 1,992 ha of moderate defoliation observed. Results from the fall egg survey indicate that the mean number of eggs/location remain the same, however, how these eggs are spatially distributed has changed significantly. In 2012, only 17.5% of the locations assessed were positive (i.e. eggs were found) with most of the eggs found in sampling locations in the St. Albans area. In 2013, besides populations still being present at reduced levels in the St. Albans area, the number of overall locations that were positive increased to 60%, with the largest increase in the number of positive locations forecast to have light damage occurring on the west coast. Whether these results indicate the start of another potential BFS outbreak on the west coast remains to be seen.

Spruce Beetle (SPBTL): Aerial defoliation surveys conducted on the island and in Labrador continue to detect SPBTL damage in areas with mature and overmature spruce. On the island damaged trees continue to be found in the Humber Valley area. In Labrador, the area with severe defoliation and dead trees increased to 46,839 ha with the discovery of another 3,527 ha of damage in the Gull Lake area in 2013. Within the area affected by SPBTL there is now older mortality (i.e. grey trees and fallen timber) and fewer yellow or red trees (i.e. symptoms of more recent attack). Approximately 31,406 ha of this area is outside of the District 19a management area.

Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetle (BSLB): This is an invasive alien species that attacks all spruce species. It was first introduced into the Halifax area in the late 1980's. Despite efforts to eradicate and contain this pest it continues to spread into other areas of Nova Scotia and was found for the first time in Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick in 2011 - firewood brought in by campers is suspected as being the source for this positive find in NB. For invasive species, identifying high-risk commodities and pathways is extremely important. For BSLB these commodities include spruce round wood with bark, firewood and wood packaging materials. In 2013, the CFIA continued to carry out trapping at 19 high risk sites in NL including Ports and wood processing facilities. Fortunately no BSLB were found, however, the close proximity of positive sites in Atlantic Canada certainly reinforces the need to remain vigilant. Although the movement of high-risk commodities is regulated by the CFIA, additional education and other measures

Gypsy Moth (GM): The European GM is an invasive species that attacks a variety of trees and shrubs with preference given to deciduous species like oak, apple, birches and aspen. The female moth of this insect does not fly and egg masses are indiscriminately laid on a variety of substrates. Humans are typically responsible for the long-range movement of this insect pest with egg masses laid on nursery stock, outdoor furniture, camping equipment, recreational vehicles, firewood, round wood, and other items capable of being transported great distances. The CFIA has been conducting pheromone trapping for this insect in NL for many years. For general detection ca. 300 traps have been placed around different communities in the Province. Based on higher than background levels of moths caught in the St. John's area in 2012, an additional 34 traps were placed on a grid at a higher density in an area of St. John's in 2013 with the goal of trying to delimit areas where other GM life-stages may be present. Ground searching to look for these other life-stages was conducted around trap locations with higher trap catches within this grid. One old egg mass was detected - this is the first time that GM life-stages, other than male moths, have been found in the Province.

Other Insect Pests: In the St. Anthony area, localized damage caused by the hairy poplar sawfly in 2011 and 2012 was greatly reduced in 2013. Whitemarked tussock moth life-stages were also observed in a 500 ha area with damage from BFS in the St. Albans area in 2013. Galling of bF needles caused by balsam gall midge was evident at a number of fall forecast sampling locations on the northern peninsula in 2013. Symptoms of damage from balsam woolly adelgid were also readily evident on bF trees on portions of the island.

Scleroderris (EU) Canker: This invasive alien species is a serious disease of hard pines and causes tree mortality in both young and mature trees with rP being the most susceptible. There are currently a total of seven positive sites outside the existing quarantine zone (i.e. Avalon). To prevent the spread of this disease to other planted and indigenous rP stands, the Scleroderris Working group has recommended that eradication of this disease from known sites be conducted. Merchantable wood is to be utilized; however, cut branches, tops and cankered stems with infective stages of the disease are to be left on site and subsequently burned. No eradication work was conducted in 2013 as an Environmental Assessment had to be carried out first as harvesting is considered an undertaking under existing legislation. An environmental assessment application was submitted and reviewed and the undertaking has been released with some conditions. In the spring of 2014 initial discussions were held with Regional and District managers with positive SCLEU sites with the goal of potentially starting eradication work in the fall of 2014. In the interim additional prohibitions of movement will be put in place by the CFIA.

Other Disease Pests: The incidence of red band needle blight observed in rP plantations appeared to be greatly reduced in 2013. Other than the Cold Brook site detected to have Sirococcus shoot blight in 2012, no new sites with damage from this disease were detected in 2013. This is the most serious disease of rP in Nova Scotia and the incidence of this disease has been on the rise in New Brunswick in recent years. No reports or observations of heavy spruce needle rust infection were provided in 2013.

Assessments of High-Value Areas: Other work priorities in 2013 prevented IDMC staff from conducting assessments in high-value areas. Discussion were held in the spring of 2014 to look at the feasibility of utilizing Regional and District DNR staff to conduct assessments in a subset of these high-value areas on an annual basis with DNR headquarters still providing overall coordination. Steps are currently underway to have this new structure for conducting assessments in place for the 2014 field season. Maps and tools identifying silvicultural areas will be provided by headquarters Silviculture staff and IDMC staff will provide insect and disease identification training and the survey protocols and forms.

Research: The DNR continues to participate in research projects through its membership with SERG-International (SERG-I). Through SERG-I members work cooperatively on research projects by sharing expertise, and financial and in-kind resources to achieve common goals in the areas of spray efficacy and integrated pest management. In 2014, assistance was given to fourteen projects with results reported in Appendix C. The DNR also contributes to forest pest research and forest pest management through its involvement with the National Forest Pest Strategy and Forest Pest Management Forum. Identifying research priorities and participating in research initiatives continues to be an important component in providing the information and tools needed to protect our forests using an integrated pest management approach.

Other Special Trials / Initiatives in 2012: A number of in-house trials were conducted to evaluate tools (e.g. BioSIM) and insect development models used to predict specific seasonal events in the life-cycle of major forest insects. The results of these trials are summarized in Appendix A and B. Beyond these trials several other important initiatives were conducted through contract work carried out in 2012 and 2013. An Insect and Disease Control Operations Manual describing the methods used by the IDMC to carry out its mandate and supporting/governing legislation has now been completed. IDMC SOP's were also created and included in this manual and will be used as part of the new EMS system for the Department. The second contract involved the purchase of new software and the transfer of this technology to the Province to assist in the prediction of major forest pest impacts. This contract is now complete and the Department has started to integrate this new decision support tool (ForPRO® by FORUS Research) with its forest estate planning software (REMSOFT) to strategically look at SBW impacts in the Province beginning with District 14. This new tool will allow for more informed decision making as it relates to quantifying the consequences of different responses to forest pest outbreaks.

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