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Brown Pine Trees Due to Tussock Moth

Posted on: July 20th, 2015

Is your pine trees turning brown? It could be the Douglas-Fir Tussock Moth which has recently been spotted in Douglas County as reported by 9News. The Tussock Moth usually appears in late spring, and once it’s gone, will not reappear until 2016. Swingle, the tree service experts in Denver, want to provide some additional information to help protect you and your trees from this destructive pest.

Tussock Moth in the Front Range

Tussock Moth in the Front Range

How Does the Moth Kill Trees?
The Douglas-Fir Tussock Moths are defoliators that affect blue spruce and white fir in our Colorado urban environment. During the larvae or caterpillar phase of this insect’s life cycle, it starts by eating newer foliage located at the top of trees. As they grow larger, they begin to move down the tree eating older needles, resulting in a brown or red cast on the affected tree.

Effects on Humans?
Beyond the environmental impact of the Tussock Moth, the hairs found on the caterpillars body, as well as their cocoons can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Itching is the most common complaint while other health effects reactions include rashes, watery eyes, and coughing. It is best to avoid direct contact with the insect in order to avoid any health related issues.

How to Treat:
It’s best to examine your property for the presence of cocoons and egg masses during the winter months in order to protect your tree(s). It’s much easier to treat young larva, as treatment is most effective right after the eggs have hatched. Typically you want to have your trees sprayed no later than mid to late June.

Early detection is the best way to avoid potential damage to your landscape. It takes a couple of years of defoliation to kill off the affected tree entirely, but it’s best to keep a look out for the Douglas-Fir Tussock moths early on.

Swingle can help evaluate and protect your trees. Call us today!


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