Officials: Destructive Beetles Are Attacking Pine Trees On Long Island

OAKDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — One of the most destructive pests has made its way to New York.

It’s a beetle and it has already killed thousands of pine trees on Long Island. On Monday, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff took a look at the damage in Suffolk County.

Pine trees are under attack from tiny beetles, smaller than grains of rice, that are invading by the thousands.

This fall, New York State Foresters spotted the Southern Pine Beetles in three state parks on Long Island. Now, the decimation has spread to seven Long Island parks.

“Frankly, since those parks are so dispersed, we fear this is going to be a larger issue than we originally thought,” NYS Parks Dept. Regional Director, Wayne Horsley, said.

Horsley said the beetles ravage pitch pines, the type of trees in the heart of Long Island’s Pine Barrens, which protects the pristine water supply.

“We are very concerned for the future of the Pine Barrens on Long Island,” Horsley said.

That’s why hundreds of stumps stand where proud pines once did. Parks officials say they must chop down infested trees. At Connetquot State Park that’s 75 percent of pitch pines.

“We are estimating four to five hundred acres in this park,” NYS Parks Regional Environmental Manager, Annie McIntyre, said, “It’s almost like cutting out a cancer. We are stopping the spread by cutting these guys down.”

Scientists believe the Southern Pine Beetles, never before seen this far north, made their way here due to warmer winters and climate change.

They’re asking the public to report evidence of infestation in their neck of the woods.

The tell-tale signs of an infestation a tunnels under the bark, trees with brown needles, and popcorn shaped clumps of resin.

One tree that CBS2’s cameras found was fighting back against thousands of feasting beetles. It has less than four months to live.

The DEC said ground surveys will help them develop a response strategy.

If you suspect an infestation in New York, you should contact the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

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