CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire forestry officials plan to remove about 120 acres of red pine trees from a state park this winter to slow the spread of an aggressive insect that’s destroyed thousands of the trees in southern New England.
The nearly microscopic brown insect is called red pine scale and was detected at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown in August. It’s the first documented case of the insect in New Hampshire, though the bug’s been a longtime headache in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, which have been losing the trees for years. Parts of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania also have battled red pine scale.
“We’re just going to try to cut it all out and hope that it doesn’t spread,” said Kyle Lombard, forest health program coordinator for New Hampshire’s Division of Forests and Lands. “There is no red pine left in Connecticut, and they’re cutting as fast as they can in states like Rhode Island and New Jersey. They’re just getting it out of there. It’s all dying.”
In the past, he said, Connecticut tried to introduce insect predators that would feed on the red scale and experimented with pesticides, but nothing really worked.
Ken Gooch, forest health program director for Massachusetts, said on average, his state loses 300 to 500 acres of red pines a year. Most of the loss has been in western Massachusetts, around the Quabbin Reservoir. He said some red pines also have died because of a common tree disease.
“The only thing that we tried maybe 15 years ago was trying to cut it out as soon as we found it, but that didn’t stop it,” Gooch said. “It’s just like hemlocks’ wooly adelgid,” a tiny beetle that has attacked hemlock trees in the region. “The birds spread it,” Gooch said. “You can’t stop that.”