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S&PF checks suspected pine beetle infestation site

Natural resources specialist Patricia Chizmadia, Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colt Neck, New Jersey, requested assistance from State and Private Forestry to inspect a recently discovered pitch pine mortality “spot.” In mid-September, entomologist Chris Hayes inspected the spot and confirmed the tree mortality identified was caused by southern pine beetle. When SPB kill a pine tree in pine-dominated stand, subsequent generations of SPB kill adjacent trees and can in one year form areas of mortality that can range in area of 1 to 1,000 acres of mortality, referred to as a “spot.”

State and Private Forestry also helped delimit the extent of the mortality and locate trees that are currently under attack, known as “brood trees,” which will produce the next generation of beetles to infest trees. 

On-site inspection confirmed that SPB were killing pitch pine trees in three spots that together covered approximately 4 acres. The largest spot was 3 acres, the other two were 1 and one-tenth of an acre, respectively.

Stand of pitch pine trees. Some are brown, showing mortality from southern pine beetle.
Pitch pine “faders” next to road on Naval Weapons Station Earle, New Jersey. “Faders” are trees that have recently been killed by southern pine beetle. Forest Service photo by Chris Hayes.

In addition to delineating the extent of these spots, Hayes and Chizmadia inspected each pitch pine tree on three-quarters of an acre of the largest spot and found greater than 50 brood trees within this area alone. These areas of SPB activity could contain greater than 200 brood trees. Hayes recommended that a cut-and-leave or cut-and-remove treatment be conducted prior to SPB emergence next spring. A cut-and-leave program would involve cutting the infested trees down and chipping the tree to small pieces while cut-and-remove, the preferred option, would involve cutting down the trees and removing them from the site entirely so that emerging SPB could not infest additional trees.

Naval Weapons Station Earle will work to secure funding for this suppression effort for anticipated needs in 2018. This is the first SPB-caused mortality at Naval Weapons Station Earle and it is hoped that by starting an aggressive suppression program now it will be possible to prevent future tree losses in this area, the largest pitch pine habitat in Monmouth County.