Spruce budworm damage is present this year but in many areas it is less noticeable than in past years. I believe this is due to a couple of things:
- The many storms we had this spring with heavy rainfall and strong winds may have washed some of the caterpillars out of the trees. They definitely washed budworm damaged needles off the tree. Damaged needles typically remain on the tree and turn a rusty brown, so not having these needles on the tree makes it less obvious where defoliation is present this year.
- Due to the constant rainfall this year, the growth on balsam fir and spruce seems to be quite good in general, which leads to additional green needles on the tree this year. This makes the trees look more green and less defoliated, but spruce budworm is still there.
Written by: Linda Williams, forest health specialist, Woodruff, (Linda.Williams@wisconsin.gov), 715-356-5211 x232.