Forest pests suffer under long winter

The long winter on P.E.I. could be good news for the Island's forestry industry.
Populations of gypsy moth could be knocked back by this long winter.

The long winter on P.E.I. could be good news for the Island's forestry industry.

Forestry officials say it could help keep insect pests in check. Spruce beetles have been a problem for Island woodlot owners, and gypsy moths have been seen in the Charlottetown area. Insect numbers are on the rise, in part because of mild winters in recent years.

But this year's deep freeze could mean a high winter kill and fewer pests in trees this spring.

"For the trees themselves it enables them to better withstand the populations of insects such as spruce beetle that are out there," said forestry information officer Ken Mayhew.

"The cold weather we had back in December through January should help to knock those numbers down because many of those insects die when the temperatures get to minus 25 degrees celsius for a couple of days so that should help control some of the populations."

It is not all good news on the pest front, said Mayhew. Field mice love the deep snow, which allows them to hide from foxes. Those mice may have also been busy under the snow nibbling away at the bark at the base of trees. Mayhew said woodlot owners may find trees have been girdled, with a full ring of bark eaten away, when the snow melts.

Some agricultural pests have also been enjoying the deep snow. Pests that overwinter in the soil, such as wireworm, have been protected by the snow from freeze-thaw cycles that can knock back populations.


  • Gypsy moths are not a problem for Island woodlot owners, as this story previously stated. The moths have only been seen in Charlottetown.
    Apr 02, 2014 8:59 AM AT