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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Imminent Spruce Budworm Outbreak Has Forestry Officials On Edge

The spruce budworm is only one and a half centimetres long, but if measures aren't taken this tiny caterpillar could spell big trouble for our forests. 

Population outbreaks of the bug happen about every thirty years and one is thought to be coming.  

UNB Professor in the faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management David MacLean tells CHSJ News the insects, which feast on spruce and balsam fir trees, are devastating in big numbers. He says during an outbreak of spruce budworm, you go from barely being able to find the insect to seeing hundreds on a single branch.

MacLean says their numbers have been growing in Quebec and they're expected to move east. The last big outbreak in New Brunswick hit between the late '70s and early '90s and half of the province's forests were defoliated.

He says an intervention strategy would involve intensive monitoring and early detection. $18-million being allocated by the federal government for an intervention programme.