Insect Invaders: The Battle to Save Our US National Forests

Discover the critical struggle to preserve our native forests against invasive insects during the upcoming Evening on the Summit on Saturday, August 19 at 8:00 pm in the amphitheater. Margaret Speicher will enlighten us with a compelling presentation titled “Insect Invaders: Preserving our Park’s Native Forests.”

Across Northeast US National Parks, invasive insects are orchestrating a transformation of our beloved forests. In the span of decades, unwelcome guests like emerald ash borers, spongy moths, hemlock wooly adelgids, and the newly arrived spotted lanternflies have wreaked havoc, causing irreparable harm to our native trees. This infestation has significantly depleted vital species like ash, oak, maples, and hemlocks. This session promises insights into the insects reshaping our woodlands, the ensuing ecological consequences, and the multifaceted strategies employed by the National Park Service to combat this formidable challenge.

Attendance for our Evening on the Summit gatherings is complimentary, and no reservations are required. Should it rain, the event will seamlessly shift to the shelter of the Visitor Center theater.

This news story is based on a press release from the National Park Service, which was issued on August 12, 2023. You can read the original release here.

Prominent Insects Invading our US National Forests

Invasive insects are wreaking havoc on US national forests, causing significant ecological imbalances and economic losses. Some notorious invaders include the emerald ash borer, spongy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, and the recently arrived spotted lanternfly.

  • Emerald Ash Borer: This beetle targets ash trees, decimating millions across the US by burrowing into their bark and disrupting water and nutrient transport. Ash trees’ decline has harmed wildlife habitats and affected the timber industry.
  • Spongy Moth: Also known as the gypsy moth, this pest defoliates a wide range of tree species, including oaks and maples. Defoliation weakens trees and makes them susceptible to diseases and other pests.
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid: Hemlocks, a crucial species in eastern forests, suffer from this aphid-like insect that feeds on their sap. Infested trees lose needles, become stunted, and can eventually die.
  • Spotted Lanternfly: This invasive planthopper, with a wide host range, feeds on sap and excretes a sugary substance that promotes mold growth. It threatens orchards, vineyards, and forested areas.

Impact of These Invasive Insects

  1. Tree Mortality: Infested trees often die, leading to degraded forest ecosystems and loss of biodiversity.
  2. Economic Losses: Timber, tourism, and recreation industries suffer from reduced forest health and degraded landscapes.
  3. Altered Ecosystems: Invasive pests disrupt nutrient cycling, soil health, and water filtration processes.

National Park & Forest Service Actions

The National Park Service and Forest Service are taking various measures to combat this challenge:

  1. Early Detection and Monitoring: Rigorous surveillance helps identify pest outbreaks promptly, enabling rapid response.
  2. Quarantine and Regulation: Restricting the movement of firewood and materials from infested areas helps prevent further spread.
  3. Biological Controls: Introducing natural predators, like parasitoid wasps, can help control invasive populations.
  4. Chemical and Mechanical Interventions: Targeted pesticide application and removal of infested trees can mitigate pest impact.
  5. Public Outreach: Educating the public about the threat of invasive insects and the importance of prevention is vital.

Given the complex nature of these invasions and their impact on ecosystems, a collaborative approach involving research, public awareness, and regulatory measures is crucial to safeguarding the health and diversity of US national forests.

National Parks List, Map, and Complete Guide (All 63 Parks + Downloadable List & Map)

Want a FREE complete list and recap of all our US National Parks as well as downloadable maps and other great resources? Check out our US National Parks List and Map guide!

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