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Sawfly causing trouble for pine trees

Published 5:47pm Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Following numerous reports of sawfly damage occurring on healthy, mature loblolly pine trees, the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) is conducting aerial surveys of tree stands in Colbert, Marion, Franklin, Lamar and Fayette counties.

The apparent culprits are larvae of the loblolly pine sawfly, feeding on and defoliating pine needles.

Infestation notices are being prepared for landowners where problems are detected, along with stand management recommendations.

Although approximately 20 species of pine sawflies exist in the Southeast, the pine sawfly (Neodiprion taedae linearis) is the current aggressor. This species produces only one generation per year, Larvae attack in the spring, mainly from April to May, and host trees can be loblolly or shortleaf pines. A mature larvae is approximately 1.25 inches long with a chocolate-brown colored head. The body is dull green with heavy black stripes along each side and lighter stripes below them.

During an outbreak, most pines will not succumb from the infestation. The best recommendation is to wait and see if the infested pines rebound from the attack. Most will recover from partial defoliation and start to grow lush green needles again by the summer. Natural predators such as birds, mammals and other parasitic organisms will prey on it, eventually reducing the infestation. .

If you suspect your pine stand is under attack by the sawfly, contact your local AFC office or visit forestry.Alabama.gov.

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