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 its 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. West 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.