A Facebook page set up to track outbreaks of tree insects and diseases on Prince Edward island is garnering attention.

Trees Insects and Diseases: P.E.I is loaded with photos and videos of common diseases and pests and the type of damage they do to trees on the Island.

PEI-si-dutch-elm-disease

An example of the devastation caused by Dutch elm disease. (Facebook)

The Forests, Fish and Wildlife division of the Department of Communities, Land and Environment has been building the page for a year.

Dave Carmichael, a horticultural technician, told Island Morning the page is a great way to have a two-way conversation with Islanders about tree pests and diseases because Facebook is "a little more user friendly for folks."

The page has a number of photo albums specific to various types of trees and pests, which Carmichael said would help people identify problems they see on their own trees and in public places. 

The page also contains useful information about environmental issues, such as wind and salt damage, as well as pruning techniques and how pruning affects pests.  

"We have albums specific to our primary tree species that are native to P.E.I., so within each album, spruce for example, there's a whole list of different diseases that affect spruce," he said.

Another category, labelled "invasive pests on the horizon," is designed to let people know about pests that could be making their way to the east coast, Carmichael said, such as the "emerald ash borer, which has been very devastating to the ash population in southern Ontario and working its way eastern towards us and is now in the eastern townships of Quebec." 

Madison Matters-Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer cuts off the water supply after it has infected ash trees, which can then dry out and collapse (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources/The Associated Press)

The whole idea of the Facebook page is to allow people, both general public and industry, to submit images "and we can perhaps try to identify the issue in that manner or insect and disease samples can be submitted to our Access PEI sites," he said.

While the page offers tips for dealing with outbreaks of pests in trees, it does not promote specific products, Carmichael said.

"[It's] additional eyes and ears for us to potentially capture an insect or identify a new introduction."

With files from Mitch Cormier and Island Morning