Sawflies damaging to Loblolly pines

Sawflies damaging to Loblolly pines

Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 9:04 pm

By RICK STUTTS
Area Forester
TN Division of Forestry
I was out near the Puryear area in Henry County recently and noticed many Loblolly Pine trees that are having a rough time.
Since I have seen Loblolly Pines in early spring with these symptoms before, I kind of had an idea what the problem was. It is a caterpillar-looking insect called Loblolly Pine Sawfly.
These sawfly larva are defoliators and basically eat the older foliage of Loblolly Pine trees. They are usually in this larva stage for three to four weeks, then they drop to the ground and stay in cocoons in the soil during the summer months. Because they usually eat only older foliage, there are tuffs of new foliage at the ends of branches. By late summer, the infested tree will normally have put on enough foliage to where damage from the Sawfly will be a distant memory. Trees very rarely die from Sawfly damage. Outbreaks occur periodically, although I have no idea why. Possibly the very warm weather we have been having had something to do with it.
If you are interested in seeing a Loblolly Pine Sawfly larva, simply go out to one of the infested trees, and if there is still some foliage left on it close to the ground, you can easily find them. They are about an inch long, dull green, with a black strip on each side and their heads are brown. If you are wondering what to do with them, I have read where they are good fishing bait.
If you have any questions, you can contact my office in Dresden at (731) 364-3430 or the fire tower at (731) 364-2541.

Published in The Messenger 5.01.12

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