Expansion of Southern Pine Beetle into Northeastern Forests: Management and Impact of a Primary Bark Beetle in a New Region
After more than a decade of damage in pitch pine forests of New Jersey, an unprecedented range expansion of southern pine beetle (SPB), Dendroctonus frontalis, has recently occurred with populations established or detected in parts of the northeastern United States. Widespread tree mortality in pitch pine stands has occurred on Long Island, New York, an area previously free of SPB. Tree mortality has also been documented in several small pine stands in Connecticut. Trapping surveys have detected SPB farther north than it had previously been known to exist, with positive trap catches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Integrated pest management plans that consist of preventative silvicultural treatments, landscape prioritization, detection and monitoring, and direct control provide the best opportunity to reduce the effects of SPB in northeastern US pine ecosystems. Most hard pine species present in the region are at risk to SPB, but less is known about white pine susceptibility. Unmanaged pine barrens are a particular concern, as they provide stand conditions conducive to SPB outbreaks. Infestation suppression implementing cut-and-leave tactics has been used in some areas of Long Island and will continue to be the primary management tool to limit damage from SPB.