July 19, 2013 6:31 pm
Updated: July 19, 2013 6:34 pm

Researcher aims to control N.B. budworm population with pheromones


FREDERICTON – They’re tiny, but they can cause a lot of damage.

The spruce budworm population is on the rise in New Brunswick.

The insects feast on fir and spruce trees, which grow heavily in the province. For an economy reliant on forestry and logging, that’s not good news.

That’s why Dr. Peter Silk, a researcher with Natural Resources Canada, is working to control the population using pheromones.

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“What we’ve managed to do is figure out what the sex pheromone of that insect is and use it to interfere with the mating of the insect,” Silk told Global News. “If you can interfere with the mating, you can decrease the population of the insect.”

Without this work, New Brunswick could be in a lot of danger in just a few years.

“We’re going to be in a wood shortage situation in the next little while, particularly with lumber mills starting up again, and lumber being sold on the housing market, that sort of thing. The budworm is going to compete with us for wood. So control of the budworm population is going to be quite critical to the economy of New Brunswick,” he explained.

In addition to Silk’s work, aerial sprayers fly across the province, spraying the forest for spruce bud worm when the insect is still in the larval stage. But technology has changed since the last outbreak of bud worm, which Silk hopes will work in his favour.

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