What We Do
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture Plant Industries Division protects the state’s fields and forests
from destructive organisms. Problematic species are monitored through
surveillance programs, populations are limited through control measures, and
regulatory efforts help prevent movement of pests into and out of the state.
The division also maintains the state’s largest collection of native insect
specimens in it pest identification library.
What's Going On
The beech scale insect
was first detected in West Virginia in 1981. Its feeding activity creates
wounds that act as entry points for a fungal component called beech bark
disease (BBD) which weakens and kills the tree. It’s been found in 12 counties.
Virginia Department of Agriculture has been conducting artificial challenges of
“potentially resistant” beech trees. This technique attempts to provide a
rigorous test of a trees’ ability to resist insect infestation by placing scale
eggs in direct contact with the bark of a test tree, providing an ideal environment for the insect to thrive. The challenge trees are evaluated in the field and lab. If the
scales did not reproduce and colonize, shoots are collected and sent to the
USFS Research lab in Ohio for grafting to beech root stock.
The objective of this
project is to find resistant beech trees for a regionally adapted seed orchard
which is located at the US Forest Service’s Timber and Watershed Laboratory in
Parsons, WV, established by the WVDA. These types of orchards will provide seed to generate resistant
seedlings for restoration plantings so healthy American beech trees can persist
in our forests.