Another rough spring for pine

Another rough spring for pine

Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 8:00 pm

By RICK STUTTS
Area Forester
TN Division of Forestry
Last year on April 11, I wrote an article called, “What is wrong with our pine trees?” A caterpillar looking insect called Loblolly Pine Sawfly had affected many Loblolly Pine, especially in north Henry County.
Well, this insect is at it again and it is looking to be as bad as last year. As mentioned in last year’s article, these sawfly larva are defoliators and basically eat the older foliage of Loblolly Pine.
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 only eat older foliage, there are tufts of new foliage at the ends of branches.
By late summer, the infested tree will normally have put on enough foliage so that 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. I thought it might be weather related, but since last year’s spring was warm and dry and this year’s spring has been cool and wet, it may not have anything to do with it.
If you are interested in seeing a Loblolly Pine Sawfly larva, simply go out to one of the infested trees. If there is still some foliage left on it close to the ground, you can easily find them. They can also be found on the trunk and on the ground.
They are about an inch long, dull green, with a black strip on each side and their heads are brown.
If you have any questions, you can contact my office in Dresden at (731) 364-3430.

Published in The Messenger 5.28.13

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