For more than a century, spruce budworm has been the most destructive insects in eastern Canadian forests. Damage is caused by the larvae (caterpillars), which feed on the new needles of balsam fir and spruce trees. Outbreaks often result in widespread tree growth loss and death with widespread effects that can last for decades. The most recent outbreak began in 2006 in Quebec and as of 2014 had already spread to cover more than 4.2 million hectares; it has the potential to soon spread through eastern Canada and US.
Despite nearly 60 years of research, we are still uncertain about many aspects of spruce budworm biology, including why populations rise and spread in the way that they do – Citizen Scientists could play a major role in providing the answers to these questions through helping us monitor the rise and spread of the current outbreak. You might be wondering: ”Do I have many spruce budworm moths in my woodlot/forest/backyard? If so, where did they come from (i.e., are they locals or migrants from distant outbreak areas)? How imminent is the threat of spruce budworm outbreak to my area?” You can help us answer these and other questions through joining our network of nearly 300 Citizen Scientists monitoring spruce budworm in northeastern North American forests!