Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Several Virginia Counties Seeing Increased Levels of Southern Pine Beetle

Based on the spring trapping survey, the southern pine beetle (SPB), once again, is not expected to reach outbreak levels in most VA locations, but there are several areas that have seen increased populations of the bug, according to officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Populations increased somewhat in Cumberland and Chesterfield counties compared to last year, but overall numbers were still relatively low, according to Dr. Chris Asaro, forest health specialist.

“As always, this does not mean that localized infestations will not occur. In fact, western Hanover County has been plagued with SPB outbreaks for the last three years, and there is a fair probability that it will be declared an outbreak county by year’s end if current trends continue,” Asaro said.

An outbreak is defined as one SPB spot per thousand acres of host type (pine) per unit area, but this is a crude definition because many small spots can join together to form one large spot, which has happened in Hanover already.

“Folks in southern portions of Spotsylvania and Caroline counties as well as eastern portions of Louisa and Goochland counties may want to keep a close eye on their pines for any potential spillover from Hanover.The hope is that there is enough hardwood cover around to prevent any major spillover, but large areas of contiguous pine cover would obviously be a concern,” Asaro said. “Another area experiencing outbreak levels of SPB is Chincoteague/Assateague Island, although there is no widespread activity reported along the rest of the Eastern Shore.”

Virginia has not experienced a statewide outbreak of SPB since 1993, when more than 50 counties were affected and $14 million worth of timber destroyed.

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