Ecologist Joanie Simard is a senior research scientist with the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife, Quebec.
This article is based on her presentation of the spruce budworm at the Community Science: Participative Research for Conservation, a conference organized by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, and the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada, in May 2001.
The spruce budworm is a native insect that is the most crucial defoliator of coniferous forests. It has been present in eastern Canada for over 100 years, and its damage to spruce forests has increased dramatically since the early 1980s. In 1990, an estimated 1.5 million hectares (3 million acres) of forest were susceptible to spruce budworm defoliation in eastern Canada.
By 2001, that number had increased to an estimated 6.5 million hectares (14 million acres).
Joanie Simard says the best way to avoid spruce budworm is to keep your trees healthy and well-maintained. If you find a budworm infestation, there are several ways to deal with it.
You can remove the affected needles, apply insecticide treatments, or use biological controls such as parasitic wasps. Remember that while the budworm is not dangerous to humans, it can cause damage to trees and other plants if left unchecked.