By Cleve Bryan
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (CBS) — Chainsaws are buzzing throughout New Jersey’s Pinelands.
This isn’t commercial logging; it’s pest control.
New Jersey is waging war against the invasive Southern pine beetle.
“Right now, when the weather gets a little bit cooler, they don’t move. So, now’s the time when we want to get most of the work that we have to do done,” says Ron Corcory, of the NJ Forestry Services.
Droves of Southern pine beetles showed up in New Jersey about a decade ago.
They feed on the living tissue under the bark of the trees, creating squiggly lines. As they bore through the pine, they introduce blue fungus that essentially chokes the tree.
“The tree starts sending out sap to try and defend itself and force the beetle out,” explains a member of the NJ Forestry Services.
The forest service spraying insecticide isn’t a viable option, but identifying and cutting down trees soon after they’re infected has proven to help control the beetle population.
“It gets disoriented as it comes out, and they’re not very good flyers to begin with,” says Corcory. “So cutting the tree, although it’s not the ideal answer…it is an option that works.”
The Southern pine beetle isn’t much bigger than a grain of rice, but each year, these tiny little bugs kill thousands of acres of New Jersey Pinelands.
Some experts say global warming is to blame for the beetles creeping northward. Part of the difficulty in stopping the spread is getting both municipal and private owners to actively fight the bugs.
“It really is the will – we need people to accept their responsibility and take care of their property using whatever funds are available to them,” Corcory says.
But getting everybody on the same page has proved difficult.