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Beetle species blamed for destruction of thousands of trees on East End

An invasive insect forced thousands of trees to be torn down on the East End.

News 12 Staff

Sep 12, 2022, 10:14 PM

Updated 643 days ago


An invasive insect forced thousands of trees to be torn down on the East End.
The southern pine beetle is known for eating and destroying the area's native pitch pines.
The only way to stop the bug is to take down the infected trees and some healthy ones around them.
The southern pine beetle has been on Long Island for years but recently has taken a hold of Napeague State Park, infesting as many as 3,000 trees - or 10% of the park.
"We cut the trees down and then we cut a buffer zone around the trees that hopefully the southern pine beetle stays in that area and doesn't affect other trees," says George Gorman, of New York State Parks.
Officials say pine trees with brown tops are evidence that the beetle has already destroyed a tree.
Park officials say they hope they can contain the beetle in Napeague, but already found and removed a couple of trees from nearby Hither Hills State Park.
Frank Stark, park manager, says the forest will grow naturally even after trees are taken down.
"It will take time but what comes down, other things will grow up," Stark says.
It could take years to see if the curated destruction knows out the bugs and then even more time for the forest to recover.
State officials say they will be watching the East End closely to hopefully control the beetles' spread.

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