Wednesday, May 30, 2007

An Alert from the Searchers

It has slowed down over the last few days, but for a while there my most popular page was "Who's that Eating the Mugo Pine?" a post I wrote on May 31 of 2006 about the European pine sawfly (Neodiprion sertifer). So finally, a couple of days ago, I thought I really must take a look at the mugo pine (Pinus mugo).

European sawfly, defensive posture
Heads reared up--they think this will scare me off

Sure enough, there they were, sawfly larvae munching the pine needles (European critters feasting on a European tree--if only it always worked out this way). Last year was a bumper year for this critter on this particular tree. I got rid of a lot of them with soapy water, and pruned away about half of the tree to reduce the number of denuded branches, but enough survived, or perhaps came from away, to produce a new crop.

European sawfly larvae headshot
Okay, this is a bit scary

There aren't too many this year, and they came later than they did for my many sawfly-mugo pine visitors (though about the same time as last year, judging by their size), but they must go. The tree looks weird enough now from the pruning it got last year--I don't want to put it through that again.

European sawfly larvae
Eat while you can, my friends


burning silo said...

This year I'm seeing tons of sawfly larvae on the Scots Pines that grow on the west side of our farm, but haven't seen any on the native pine species. I must compare them to the ones you've found on the Mugo Pines to see if they're the same. It would be interesting to know what factor is responsible for a surge in the population of these fellows -- perhaps they do better in a cooler, wetter spring. They seems to have exploded in numbers just as it has turned warmer.

Pamela Martin said...

These guys are reputed to infest native species, but I've never seen them on the white pines that are so abundant around here. In fact, I never noticed them at all until just a few years ago. According to this site they prefer the exotic pines, though there are a few (not including the white) native species they like.