P.E.I. budworm tracking data important to scientists

A summer long research project on spruce budworm on P.E.I. has been completed.

Citizen scientists documented information with smartphone app

Forest Protection Limited biologist Drew Carleton shows how a budworm trap works. (CBC)

A summer long research project on spruce budworm on P.E.I. has been completed.

About two dozen citizen scientists assisted the Canadian Forest Service project that is tracking the migration of the spruce budworm.

Spruce budworm feed on balsam fir and spruce trees and outbreaks have already destroyed millions of hectares of forest in Quebec.

The last outbreak on P.E.I. was 35 years ago. But a small number of budworms is normal. 

Volunteers in six provinces and Maine set up traps baited to attract moths in wooded areas and checked them at least once a week.

The citizen scientists documented how many budworm moths were in the traps with some volunteers using a smartphone app.

Drew Carleton, a Forest Protection Limited biologist, says the information is important.

"It's great to have this baseline information of what's here so if populations do start to rise we have an indication of how fast they are rising and where they are rising," said Carleton.

It will be several months before this year's numbers are confirmed.

Horticultural technician David Carmichael helped recruit P.E.I.'s citizen scientists for the project.

"It will allow folks to develop an awareness of the pest, and the significance of the effects that the pest may have as it goes through these 30 or 40 year cycles."

Carleton says more volunteers will be needed next year to help predict spruce budworm trends across P.E.I and the region. 


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