The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forestry Unit is advising officials and residents of plans to suppress the recently discovered Southern Pine Beetle infestation, starting last week in Hampton Bays.
The efforts will include felling about 1,000 infested pine trees in Henry’s Hollow, a wooden area of Hampton Bays that includes state land and forested open space.
“Henry’s Hollow has been identified by DEC as a priority area for suppression efforts,” the DEC states. “The location and size of the infestation must be addressed now to reduce the chances of the beetle spreading quickly northward into vast areas of the Pine Barrens during warmer weather.”
The Southern Pine Beetle, confirmed for the first time in the state on Long Island in October 2014, is a bark beetle native to the southern United States that has steadily expanded its range north and westward, according to the DEC. Considered one of the most destructive forest pests in the United States, Southern Pine Beetle attacks pine trees including pitch pine, the predominant species found in the Long Island Pine Barrens.
A widely used and effective method of minimizing the spread of Southern Pine Beetle involves cutting infested trees during cold weather months to decrease the beetle populations. Pesticide options are available and can be effective for small scale treatment goals, but are not feasible for large scale management due to high costs and the risk of groundwater contamination impacts to the sole source aquifer that lies below the Pine Barrens and contains Long Island’s purest drinking water, the DEC states.
Further information on how to identify and control Southern Pine Beetle can be found on the DEC’s website.
The DEC urges anyone who suspects Southern Pine Beetle to report any recently dead pine in the Long Island area, especially if there are several trees grouped together. Sightings should be reported to the Forest Health Diagnostic Lab through the toll-free information line, 1-866-640-0652 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. If possible, accompany any reports with photos of the trees including close ups of any damage. An added item in the photo for scale, such as a penny, would help with identification.