September 14, 2006
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan and New York State Department of
Agriculture and Markets (DAM) Commissioner Patrick H. Brennan today
announced a comprehensive program to help limit the spread of a
serious forest health pest which can harm pine forests, the Sirex
The Sirex Wood Wasp, Sirex noctilio, was first discovered in New
York State in a bark beetle trap in September 2004 in the City of
Fulton, Oswego County as part of the Cooperative Agricultural Pest
Survey (CAPS) Program. This exotic invasive species, native to
Europe and a significant pine tree pest in Australia, Africa and
South America, is suspected of arriving in wood packing material and
has now spread into areas of New York State.
Following the detection of the wasp, DEC, DAM, the United States
Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS) and Forest Service (USFS) formed a Sirex Management Team in
2005. The team conducted extensive surveys for the presence of the
wasp. Surveys conducted to date have found the wasp in portions of
the following 22 counties: Oswego, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Wayne,
Allegany, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara,
Oneida, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Wyoming, Yates, Chautauqua,
Madison, Broome and Cattaraugus counties. The Sirex Wood Wasp has
also been discovered in a number of southern Ontario, Canada
locations, and in Pennsylvania.
Sirex is considered to be a major pest to native red pines, white
pines, as well as non-native Scots and Austrian pines. The female
wasp carries a fungus which it deposits in a host tree as it lays
its eggs. The fungus weakens the host tree and can lead to mortality
in as little as a few weeks.
The Sirex Management Team has developed an action plan to limit the
spread of this wasp including an extensive survey component,
bio-control research including the use of nematodes, a plan to
quarantine if necessary to limit the distribution of infested wood
products from affected areas, an outreach and education effort, and
applied research to better understand the impacts the wood wasp
might have on New York's pine resources.
In addition, the Sirex Management Team has coordinated a
comprehensive trapping effort which has placed 1,400 traps
throughout the State that are regularly monitored by staff between
June and October, during which the insects emerge as adult wasps. To
date, 37 Sirex Wood Wasps have been collected during the trapping
efforts in 2006.
The traps are hung several feet off the ground in pine stands with
preference given to stressed 2- and 3-needle pines at a density of
one trap per 25 square miles within 150 miles of known Sirex
locations in the U.S. and Canada. The targeted area encompasses most
of New York State and portions of Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio and
Michigan. The density is reduced to one trap per 36 square miles in
counties adjacent to the known positive counties and the area of the
State that falls outside of the 150-mile radius.
DEC and DAM have distributed information to the forest products
industry outlining protocols and actions industry should take to
reduce the probability of infected wood materials being transported
to non-infested areas. Additional information on the Sirex wood wasp
and recommended protocols can be found
on DEC's website.
The Sirex Management Team currently is studying additional issues
related to limiting the movement of certain pine wood products from
infested areas. Team members have been meeting with the Empire State
Forest Products Association (ESFPA) and forestry industry
representatives to examine the processes used by the forestry
industry and to determine additional measures that could be taken to
mitigate and prevent the spread of this invasive pest. The State
also is working closely with the State University of New York's
College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) and Cornell
University on applied research related to the insect pest.
DEC's Division of Lands and Forests is also offering a portion of
available federal Forest Land Enhancement Funds (FLEP) to private,
non-industrial forest land owners to facilitate forest health
improvement work in pine stands to help reduce the susceptibility of
such stands to Sirex infestation. Interested land owners can find
out more information about this program
or by contacting DEC Regional Forestry offices.
The State is also targeting areas for surveying within the State
Forest system which will help determine the extent of this invasive
pest's presence on State-owned forest lands, and the impact it is
having on the State's pine resources. This is important to ascertain
since much of the State's red pine and scots pine resources are
located on maturing plantations on State Forests.
Of New York's 800-900 million-board-foot annual timber harvest,
approximately 11 percent is comprised of eastern white pine, while
another four percent of harvest is comprised of red pine. One-half
of the pine harvest is exported to Quebec and Ontario in log form.
In New York, pines are used to produce all grades and types of
softwood lumber, and important products such as log homes, log home
components, telephone poles, various furniture products, molding and
millwork and flooring.
The State is committed to working with its partners in the forest
products industry, with forest land owners and with federal agencies
to limit the damage that this serious forest health pest poses to
New York and areas beyond its borders. Last year, the State released
a comprehensive Invasive Species Task Force Report that recommended
actions to deal with invasive species like the Sirex Wood Wasp. This
year, Governor George E. Pataki and the State Legislature allocated
$3.25 million for invasive species control, research, management and
education from the Environmental Protection Fund.
The public is encouraged to contact DEC's Forest Health staff at
(518) 402-9425 with information about possible Sirex infestations.