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Maine Prepares for Outbreak of Spruce Budworm.

The spruce budworm is making a comeback.  This should be a concern to Maine landowners, loggers, and wood dependent industries.  Fir and spruce could be adversely affected and this could have an impact on woodland owners in Maine.  Spruce and fir stands could be weakened or killed.  An invasion of the budworm could affect the already strained softwood markets.  If everyone is trying to sell softwood, the price could drop more, or markets may become scarce.  The Maine Forest Service is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to do so.  The Maine Forest Service releases reports quarterly and interested parties should read them.  I will make this information available on my website.  I have copied the latest news release and you can read it below. 

From: Parisio, Michael <>

Subject: Watch for active signs of SBW now


Hello again SBW Cooperators,


I’ve received some reports of SBW larvae in far northern Aroostook Co and Neil Thompson at UMFK has been busy observing them at numerous sites during scouting trips throughout far northern Aroostook Co this week as well. Since you’ll have staff out and about hanging up SBW traps this week and next, I’d like to ask you to please keep a watchful eye out and let any staff doing the trap hanging know to keep an eye out for any signs of SBW defoliation, late instar larvae, or pupae at trap sites. It can be a simple as taking a few minutes at each site to have a look at branch tips anywhere they are close enough to the ground to observe on foot and should not add to the workload much, and would be very much appreciated. If you do see anything interesting, please send me a note (or photos) with locations so we can start to keep track of anything early on this year in case it helps direct more formal survey efforts right now or later this summer. I’ve attached some photos to remind folks what to look for, since a lot of us have not seen active budworm populations in Maine, or at least for a long while. Larva and pupa photos courtesy of Neil Thompson. Thanks everyone!


What should you do?  If you own land that contains a lot of softwood, you should monitor the situation.  Read the reports and as they become available.  To harvest, or not to harvest, is your decision.


The following link gives the data about the traps being used and the data they have generated:

What is Spruce Budworm?

  • Native insect

  • Eats needles of fir and spruce trees

  • Population either very high or very low

  • 40 year cycle in sync with maturing of fir & spruce

  • Kills trees by eating all the needles year after year

Spruce Budworm Prognosis:

  • Noticeable defoliation in Maine in 2-4 years

  • Will kill trees and reduce growth

  • Perhaps not as severe as last outbreak

    • Trees are younger

    • Not as contiguous across the landscape

    • Infestations may be shifting north


For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to:   



​Maine Forestry

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