Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force launches new website

The Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force has launched a new website designed to be a communications outreach tool and resource for the coming outbreak in the state.

The site and companion Facebook page were designed and developed by task force members from the Maine Forest Service, Maine Forest Products Council, Maine Tree Foundation and the University of Maine’s Center for Research on Sustainable Forests and Cooperative Forestry Research Unit, with input from leading experts on the spruce budworm.

The website provides facts about the natural cycle of the budworm, information regarding the approach and potential effects of the next outbreak, historical context, and interactive maps on current outbreak status. It also includes an interactive Q&A section and the ability to request experts to speak at events and conferences, according to a news release issued by the group.

The eastern spruce budworm is believed to be the most damaging forest insect in Maine and North America. Outbreaks of the insect that kills balsam fir and spruce trees occur every 30 to 60 years. During the last outbreak, which lasted from 1970–85, the insect decimated up to 25 million cords of spruce/fir wood, 21 percent of all fir trees in the state, according to the Maine Forest Products Council. The infestation cost the state’s forest-based economy hundreds of millions of dollars and had lasting effects on forest management. Although no defoliation in Maine has yet begun, significant infestations in New Brunswick and Quebec indicate that the next outbreak is at our doorstep.

The Maine Spruce Budworm Task Force formed in 2013 to determine the economic and ecological effects another outbreak might have on the state and a strategy to minimize those effects.