Pest Management

Integrated pest management

A diverse complex of insect and disease pests can affect Christmas trees. Some insects and disease affect multiple conifer species while others are specialists affecting only one species. It is important that growers are able to identify common insects and diseases to effectively assess the potential damage that may be caused by each pest.

Timing insecticide applications

Proper timing of insecticide or fungicide applications is essential to obtaining effective control of many insect pests and diseases.  This often requires understanding the life cycle of key insects and fungal pathogens.. Scale insects, for example, are common pests on several conifer species. Insecticides must be applied when the susceptible stage of the insect is present to control the pest. Likewise, fungicide applications to control needlecast diseases may be completely ineffective if they are applied after spore have already infected new needles.

Coverage affects efficacy

Obtaining adequate coverage when insecticides are applied can also be problematic. Many Christmas tree insect pests such as mites, aphids, adelgids and scales, are very small or are found under the bark, within buds, or other protected locations. Spray equipment used by Christmas tree growers is frequently incapable of delivering an adequate amount of the product to the portions of the tree inhabited by the target pest. In addition, the dense foliage of many Christmas tree species can prevent insecticide sprays from reaching the inner foliage, tree branches and stems where common pests such as Zimmerman pine moth or spruce spider mite thrive. If growers do not recognize the problem, this situation can lead to multiple spray applications in attempts to control the pest.

Scouting for insects and disease

Christmas tree pest management guides and resources