Fisheries and Land Resources

Forestry and Agrifoods

2015 Results and Outlook for 2016

Below is the summary from the 2015 report. Here is the full report: NL Pest Report 2015 (228 KB)

Summary - 2015

Control Program: To facilitate the protection of areas forecast to have moderate-severe hemlock looper (HL) defoliation in 2015 and prevent the spread of HL populations into other critical forest management areas, an aerial control program with 12 treatment blocks and a total gross area of 15,281 ha (741 ha - White's River; 5,947 ha - Hawke's Bay; 1,984 ha - Leg Pond; 6,609 ha - Ten Mile Lake) was approved. Approval was also given to protect two treatment blocks totally 710 ha north of Daniel's Harbour as part of a spruce budworm (SBW) early intervention strategy (EIS) trial to reduce populations of this insect before they're able to get above a threshold were populations can increase despite natural controls. After consultation with other Provincial Departments, the HL control program and SBW EIS trial were conducted under a Pesticide Operators Licence (14-049) issued by the Department of Environment and Conservation. As per Licence requirements public notice was provided through local newspapers. Maps and information were also provided through Forestry Services offices and to municipalities near the areas treated. Public notice, maps, and notifications of treatments and block openings were also provided through the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency web site. Insect and host-tree monitoring was conducted with HL blocks opened when larvae were predominantly 2nd instar and the foliage on bF trees was completely flushed and elongated allowing for good target deposition. For SBW, later larval instars (4th, 5th instar) and flushing of bF foliage was used to open blocks. Treatments were conducted out of a spray base at the Port au Choix airstrip, as well as, from mobile set-ups at the Deer Lake Airport and Sandy Cove airstrip. Two B.t.k. products, Foray 76B and Bioprotec HP, were applied at label rates of 2.0 L/ha for control of HL, and 1.5 L/ha for control of SBW. Calibration of the spray aircraft was conducted on July 5th out of Stephenville Airport and control operations commenced the morning of July 7th and were not completed until August 1st. For HL, only 10 of the 12 blocks or a net area of 10,729 ha was treated with 5,725 ha receiving only a single application of B.t.k. and 5,004 ha receiving a double application of B.t.k. due to very high populations. The two HL blocks not treated in Leg Pond were dropped due to populations lower than forecasted. The western half of another block in Hawke's Bay was also dropped for the same reason. High spring egg parasitism rates in this area are felt to be responsible for this drop in populations. For SBW, both treatment blocks received a double application of B.t.k. to maximize SBW mortality. For HL, pre and post-spray larval and defoliation assessments indicated good efficacy despite the very high populations and delays in treatment due to poor weather. For SBW, larval mortality in the treated areas was greater than observed in the untreated controls and there was a also a significant reduction in between generation survival. For both HL and SBW, the reductions observed in within and between generation survival were related to not only the treatments themselves, but also the cooler than normal temperatures experienced in July. Beyond providing support to the 2015 HL and SBW control program, IDC personnel also maintained equipment and infrastructure needed to support future control actions as needed. IDC personnel also provided valuable assistance and support to other Forestry Services programs (i.e. Fire, Forest Roads, and Districts).

Weather / Seasonal Phenology: Weather information, specifically daily maximum and minimum temperatures, are annually used to calculate degree day accumulations. The 2015 degree day accumulations were compared to those from previous years. In 2015, seasonal development started out as normal and then dropped off sharply due to cooler than normal temperatures in July. These abnormal temperatures were caused by a blocking high over Greenland. Slower degree day accumulations were observed and depending on the time of year and location examined the seasonal development was 1-2 weeks later than observed in a normal year and 2-3 weeks later than observed in a warm or early year. Operational logistics for the timing of treatments and the timing of all monitoring surveys had to be adjusted accordingly.

Eastern Hemlock Looper (HL): Given the declines observed in HL populations in the last 5-10 years, pheromone trapping was initiated in 2011 with a network of 50 locations established to help monitor low density populations. This network was expanded to 105 and 106 locations in 2012 and 2013 and seven locations were monitored in Labrador. In 2014, the number of trapping locations was increased to 118 sites on the Island and 36 sites in Labrador. In 2015, the same 36 sites were used in Labrador and the number of trapping sites on the Island was increased to 152 locations. At each location, two Unitraps - each containing a 10 μg HL pheromone lure from Sylvar Technologies Inc. and one Vaportape killing strip were placed ca. 40 m apart. The lure formerly used from Contech Enterprises is no longer available and tests conducted in 2014 comparing this lure to the lure from Sylvar Technologies Inc. found the latter to be more responsive to population density changes. This is the 1st year the Sylvar lure has been used for provincial monitoring with the 2015 results being a baseline year for the new lure. Trapping results from a small subset of locations with the Sylvar lure in 2014 (i.e. those in the Ten Mile Lake area where HL was active), however, were compared to 2015 trapping results - a significant reduction in the number of adults caught in 2015 was observed. Follow-up egg sampling in the Ten Mile Lake area confirmed that this was accompanied by a large reduction in egg densities. Conversely, higher pheromone trap catches in the Main River area in 2015 coincided with higher egg densities. This provides additional evidence that the new HL lure is responsive to population density changes. This is extremely important as the pheromone trapping results will be used to identify where fall egg sampling can be decreased or increased on an annual basis. An aerial overview survey was conducted in August to map the severity and extent of damage found in the Province. As expected based on the results of the 2014 HL egg survey, 2,169 ha of M-S defoliation was observed in the Ten Mile Lake area. Within the area treated in Ten Mile Lake in 2015, 1,182 ha had M-S damage. High populations and delays in treatment due to poor weather resulted in higher than desired current defoliation levels within the treatments, however, the area of M-S defoliation was still half of what was observed in 2014 (2,344 ha). Other locations with smaller areas of M-S defoliation were also found on the Northern Peninsula in Leg Pond (75 ha), River Of Ponds (58 ha), Main River (107 ha), White's River (69 ha) and west of St. Anthony (252 ha). No HL defoliation has been observed in Labrador since the collapse of the last outbreak in 2009. The results of the 2015 fall forecast or egg survey indicate HL populations have collapsed on the Island in the areas treated on the Northern Peninsula in 2015. Only remnant populations remain in these areas, however, populations have increased in the Main River area and are forecast to cause M-S defoliation in 2016. Despite the M-S forecast in this area, no treatments are planned for 2016 as much of this area is alienated (i.e. Main River Protected Area) or constrained by other factors (i.e. pine marten habitat, terrain difficult to harvest). In 2016, this area will be monitored to determine if populations capable of causing M-S damage are expanding into core forest management areas. Other locations where localized M-S defoliation is expected in 2016 include: Leg Pond, south of Middle Pond on the Torrent River, Owl Pond northeast of Ten Mile Lake, Island Pond east of St. Anthony, and Bellevue Provincial Park. Again, a number of these locations are outside of core forest management areas in alienated or domestic areas. No treatments are planned in these areas and populations will be monitored in 2016. In Labrador, HL populations which collapsed in 2009, remain low with only three HL eggs found at three of the 62 locations assessed during the 2015 fall forecast survey.

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 since 2007. A large SBW outbreak is currently underway in Quebec on the north shore of the St. Lawrence and on the Gaspé. In the last several years, SBW populations have also been on the rise in portions of northern New Brunswick. Where the potential exists for SBW moths to migrate to Newfoundland under favourable weather conditions, a network of 49 pheromone trapping locations was established back in 2000 along a leading edge to monitor low density populations and possible migration. This network was increased to 100, 108, and 110 trapping locations in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively. In Labrador, in 2014 trapping was expanded from 10 locations in Happy Valley - Goose Bay to 12 locations, and an additional 24 locations were added in the Cartwright (12 locations) and Port Hope Simpson (12 locations) areas. In 2015, the same 36 trapping sites were used in Labrador and the number of trapping sites on the Island was increased to 148 locations. In 2015, Unitrap® non-saturating traps with Vaportape killing strips were baited with two different SBW lures - a 330 μg SBW flex lure produced by Synergy Semiochemicals Corp. and a 100 μg SBW septa lure from Sylvar Technologies Inc. Two traps were placed at each location at a distance of ca. 40 m apart. At 100 locations traps were paired to facilitate a comparison of trap catches for traps baited with the Synergy versus the Sylvar lure. At the remaining sites two traps were baited with the Synergy lure only. With the SBW lures produced by Contech Enterprises no longer being available the Province has been testing new lures and began using the Synergy lure in 2012. Trials in 2013 found this lure consistently caught twice as many moths compared to traps baited with the Contech lure. In 2015 the Synergy lure was also found to statistically catch more moths than the Sylvar lure although the differences found were not as great. The Synergy lure has become a reliable lure for monitoring low density SBW populations in NL, however, due to the differences in trap catches noted between these two lures care must be taken when looking at year to year population trends. Using only the years where the Synergy lure was used there was an increasing trend from 2012 to 2013 caused by immigration followed by declines in 2014, and 2015. Sites being monitored on a regular basis over the adult moth flight period in 2015, showed no evidence of moth immigration. In 2015 the Province participated for the first time in the Budworm Tracker program, a citizen science program which uses private cooperators to collect and record the number of SBW moths found on a regular basis over the flight period. This added an additional 17 sites where routine monitoring was conducted in NL. Comparison of trap catches to the predicted flight period at a number of these locations again found no evidence of moth immigration. This was also supported by pheromone and light trapping work conducted by Dr. Marc Rhainds on the Northern Peninsula in 2015. The obvious concern over moth immigration is the role that it may play in population increases. Following the SBW immigration event in 2013, low but detectable populations of SBW L2 were found on the Northern Peninsula, particularly in an area north of Daniel's Harbour. Some of this area was treated in 2015 and L2 populations were substantially reduced, however, based on a sample of ca. 150 locations L2 populations overall have declined on the Island. This general decline is thought to be related to a lack of immigration observed in the last two years in combination with an abnormal year where cool weather in July adversely affected the within and between generation survival of this insect as indicated by the reduction in L2 numbers between 2014 and 2015. No L2 forecast locations in 2015 had 4 or more L2/branch, even in the areas north of Daniel's Harbour, where low L2 counts with an average of 4-6 L2/branch were found in 2014. This is thought to be a conservative threshold above which SBW populations can overcome the natural controls which keep them at endemic levels. For the time being it appears SBW populations will remain at low levels and no early intervention treatments will be required in 2016. Increasing SBW populations elsewhere in eastern Canada, however, remain troubling and the Province must remain vigilant with its monitoring efforts in the future. In Labrador, not unexpectedly, trap catches were higher in the Happy Valley - Goose Bay area where SBW populations have been active over the last nine years, however, the area of M-S defoliation caused by SBW declined for a second consecutive year from 82,231 ha in 2013 to 50,747 ha in 2014, and 36,352 ha in 2015. L2 survey results in Labrador indicate that SBW populations will again be active in this area in 2016 and capable of causing M-S defoliation in areas between the Churchill River and north to Grand Lake. This will be the tenth year that populations will be active in the Happy Valley - Goose Bay area. Populations may, however, continue to decline in this area due to a combination of reduced resources and increased mortality from natural enemies.

Balsam Fir Sawfly (BFS): Populations of BFS remain at low levels. The last outbreak of this pest occurred on the Island from 1991 to 2009. No pheromone lure presently exists for monitoring low density populations of this insect. Research trials conducted in NL in 2014 through SERG-I to test a BFS pheromone were unsuccessful. For now the primary means for detecting this pest is through observations of damage. As expected, BFS populations continued to decline in the St. Albans area in 2015. No BFS defoliation was observed in this area in 2015 and no defoliation from this insect was detected elsewhere during the aerial survey. The fall egg survey results also indicated a decline in BFS numbers with no eggs found at any forecast locations in the St. Albans area in 2015. On the west coast, similar to the 2014 results, no eggs were found at any of the 2015 forecast locations. Only three sites on the Connaigre Peninsula were found to have low BFS egg counts.

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. Damaged trees, now with older mortality, continue to be found on the Island in the Humber Valley area. Scattered white spruce mortality caused by SPBTL was also observed around Clarenville on the east coast and in the Harry's River area on the west coast. In Labrador, the area with severe defoliation and dead trees has not increased since 2013 and covers an area of 46,839 ha. Within the area affected by SPBTL there is now older mortality and very few yellow or red trees. Ca. 31,406 ha of this area is outside of the District 19a management area. In 2015, the IDC Section provided additional in-kind support to a spruce beetle research project being conducted through SERG-I. Results from this project found differences in the chemical ecology of eastern and western spruce beetle populations and provide quantitative measurements to assist in the future development SPBTL pheromone blends for use in population monitoring.

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 in traps in Kouchibouguac National Park, NB in 2011 and 2014. Firewood brought into the park by campers is suspected as the source for these positive finds. BSLB adults have also been caught in traps in Memramcook in southeastern NB for two consecutive years (2014 and 2015). 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 2015, the CFIA conducted trapping at 19 high risk sites in NL including wood processing facilities, parks, and campgrounds. Fortunately no BSLB were found in NL, however, with the expanded regulatory area which now includes all of Nova Scotia and the close proximity of positive BSLB sites in Atlantic Canada, there is a need for vigilance. Additional education and other measures (i.e. wood bins) at points of entry ((i.e. North Sydney) should be considered to reduce the risk of introducing this pest into the Province.

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. 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 continue to conduct pheromone trapping for detection of this insect in NL. In 2015, 362 traps were placed in the Province around different communities. Due to the capture of GM adults in the City of St. John's, a grid with a higher trapping density has been established since 2013 to help direct searching for life-stages other than male moths. This led to the detection of one old egg mass in the fall of 2013 and one old egg mass in the spring of 2014. This was the first time that GM life-stages, other than male moths, have been found in the Province. In 2015, pheromone catches were greatly reduced in this grid with only two positive traps with single adults found. GM trap catches, elsewhere in the Province were negative.

Other Insect Pests: In 2015, declines in a number of insect pests previously reported were observed; however, there are increasing concerns about damage being observed from the balsam woolly adelgid (BWA), particularly in pre-commercially thinned stands. In 2015 reports of severe damage in thinned stands in the White Wash Road area were provided. Historically trees in this area have not been affected. These changes may be directly related to warmer winter temperatures caused by climate change.

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 red pine (rP) being the most susceptible. There are currently seven positive sites outside the existing quarantine zone in Newfoundland. To prevent the spread of this disease to other planted and indigenous rP stands, an inter-departmental working group recommended eradication of this disease from known sites - merchantable wood was to be utilized; however, cut branches, tops and cankered stems with infective stages of the disease were to be left on site or subsequently burned. Despite approval to carry out harvesting in these areas through an Environmental Assessment conducted in 2013, harvesting has only been conducted in one area. Low volumes and tree diameters have prevented harvesting in the other sites. Over the last 5-years significant expansion and increased mortality of rP has been observed within a number of these infected sites. Fortunately no expansion of the disease to new sites has been observed. The CFIA will continue to provide prohibition of movement certificates to prevent the movement of infected rP from these areas.

Other Disease Pests: No reports of damage from other disease pests were received in 2015.

Assessments of High-Value Areas: In 2015, other work priorities prevented IDC Section staff from conducting any assessments in high-value areas.

Research: The Forestry and Agrifoods Agency continues to participate in research projects through its membership in SERG-International (SERG-I). SERG-I members work cooperatively on 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 2015, assistance was provided to nine projects with results reported in Appendix C. The Agency also contributes to forest pest research 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 improving our understanding of forest pest ecology and improving the tools needed to monitor and protect our forests using an integrated forest pest management approach.

Other Special Trials / Initiatives in 2015: A comparison of SBW pheromone trap catches using traps baited with Synergy vs. Sylvar lures found the Synergy lure caught statistically more moths (Appendix A). In 2015, in-kind assistance with light and pheromone trapping studies being conducted by Dr. Marc Rhainds on the west coast/Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland were continued and results are reported in Appendix B. In-kind assistance was also provided again in 2015 to a spruce beetle project being conducted under SERG-I. It found differences in the pheromones produced by spruce beetle on the west versus the east coast of Canada. These data offer new insights into the chemical ecology of the spruce beetle, and provide quantitative measurements of the SB pheromone blend that can facilitate the development and testing of new lure formulations. Significant cooperative work was also conducted in 2015 towards the final completion of an Insect and Disease lab in 2016. This facility is a critical to the Provinces ability to monitor and forecast major forest pest populations.

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