Maine Forest Service seeks volunteers for bug survey

Posted March 04, 2011, at 2:15 p.m.

AUGUSTA — The Maine Forest Service (MFS), under the Maine Department of Conservation, is asking volunteers to take part in its first volunteer survey of hemlock woolly adelgid at a Maine state park.

Additional volunteers are needed for a survey of hemlock woolly adelgid at Vaughan Woods State Park, South Berwick, according to Allison Kanoti, MFS forest entomologist. Teams are needed to survey both the presence of the invasive insect and the number of hemlock trees in the park, she said.

“Hemlock woolly adelgid was first detected in the park by a volunteer surveyor last December, and the infestation appears to be in the early stages,” the MFS entomologist said. “Now we need to know just how extensive the infestation is and the number of hemlock trees in the park, so we can determine to what extent the park’s woods could be affected.”

The results of the survey will used to guide adelgid management decisions and projections of impacts from the adelgid, Kanoti said in a Department of Conservation press release.

The Vaughan Woods State Park survey is scheduled for 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Wednesday, March 9. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the Maine Forest Service ahead of time, Kanoti said.

Hemlock woolly adelgid is a small, aphid-like insect that is covered with white, waxy wool-like material. This wool-like covering makes the insect resemble miniature cotton balls. It is most visible from late-October through July, with woolly masses located on the undersides of the twigs at the bases of the needles. The insect begins its egg-laying in March.

The insect, which came from Japan in the 1950s, eventually causes infested trees to have off-color needles, often with a grayish cast, and premature needle drop and twig dieback.

Hemlock trees are a significant Maine tree species and are one of the major trees found at Vaughan Woods, Kanoti said. Usually found near water bodies, hemlocks contribute to the state’s forest ecosystem. They protect the forest floor from erosion and help water quality particularly by buffering water temperatures, which can affect such species as brook trout. Hemlocks also are important in deer wintering areas.

Hemlock woolly adelgid has been found in at least 16 states and was first discovered in Kittery in 2003. Since then, it has been spreading up the coastal area of Maine. The insect was found at Ferry Beach State Park in 2008 and at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport this past summer, Kanoti said. The Maine Forest Service has been conducting HWA surveys at Ferry Beach for the past three years, but this survey is the first to include the public, she said.

“We can conduct surveys with only a limited amount of resources, and we rely on the public for help,” Kanoti said. “The public is aware of the problem, and they are very supportive of our efforts to control these insects.”

The forest entomologist noted that many early signs of infestation in Maine have been discovered by private individuals. She pointed out that the MFS has found about two-thirds of new HWA infestation along Maine’s coastal areas, while about one-third has been discovered by the public.

Vaughan Woods is 250-acre forested tract along the Salmon Falls River known for its old-growth stands of pine and hemlock. Kanoti said the volunteers will survey the park for HWA using a standardized sampling method “to give us an idea of how much adelgid is there.” Using the standardized method also will allow the MFS to track the infestation over time, she said.

In addition, the surveyors will take an inventory of all types of trees, particularly hemlocks, in the park. The position of the hemlocks in the woods, whether they are located in the forest canopy or below it, “will give us an idea of what the forest could look like as it is impacted by the adelgid,” Kanoti said.

The Maine Forest Service and Bureau of Parks and Lands are exploring options for purchasing predatory beetles to help manage adelgid at the park, Kanoti said. Biological control is one of a very limited set of tools for management of HWA in the forest. The beetles could help to reduce impacts from adelgid to hemlock health, she said. This would minimize the loss of the benefits hemlocks provide, such as maintaining soil stability and providing wildlife habitat.

Prospective volunteers should be aware that the survey will be conducted outdoors and off-trail, and they should be cognizant of weather and snow conditions, Kanoti said. The physical demands will be moderate to high, with periods of physical exertion followed by periods of relative inactivity. If the weather is inclement, the survey will be rescheduled.

Volunteers are asked to register by 9 a.m., Monday, March 7.

For more information or to register for the survey, contact Allison Kanoti at (207) 287-3147 or by email at: allison.m.kanoti@maine.gov

For more information about hemlock woolly adelgid, go to: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/HemlockWoollyAdelgid.htm

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/03/04/outdoors/maine-forest-service-seeks-volunteers-for-bug-survey/ printed on December 20, 2014