Some of my spruce trees are looking bad. I’m not sure what’s causing the reddening of the buds or the needle damage. Are these trees being damaged by insects or a fungus? This would be an ideal time to be able to summon Doctor Bombay for assistance in finding a cure. As I recall, he was able to cure a weeping willow on one episode of Bewitched and was quite an expert in his use of unconventional methods.
Calling Doctor Bombay! Calling Doctor Bombay! Emergency! Come right away!
One of the spruces is especially affected. I first noticed a few reddened buds a couple of years ago, but it’s looking worse and worse. A few other spruces in the yard are affected as well. Some of these trees also have twigs that are bared of their needles. Once a tree is damaged in some way, it becomes vulnerable to a host of other diseases.
Could the culprit be the dreaded spruce budworm? It attacks both firs and spruces throughout North America, damaging whole stands in the process. First documented in Quebec in 1704, the spruce budworm follows a 35 year cycle. It last peaked in Nova Scotia in 1976, which means that we’re due for an infestation.
Forests are usually treated for spruce budworm with spraying. However, if it is indeed worms that are attacking these buds, I’m wondering if there might be a more natural solution to the problem. There must be birds that would find these worms tasty. Also, the grey moths that are the adult stage of the pest are active in the evenings. Could bats be helpful in controlling them?
During the winter, the larvae hibernate in crevices on the twigs, waiting to awaken to a scrumptious breakfast of fresh new green buds in the spring. I’ll be waiting for them.
Reference: Natural Resources Canada