Pine and rose chafers are active in Christmas tree fields

Pine and rose chafers are now appearing. Feeding causes broken, green and brown needles, leaving the trees looking ragged in appearance.

Pine chafers, also known as Anomala beetle (Anomala oblivia Horn), feeds primarily on Scotch pine, but can be a problem on all pines. These beetles are about 0.33 inches long; females are tawny and the male is brown with a greenish-bronze head.

Pine chafer
Male pine chafer adult.

Rose chafers, Macrodactylus subspinosus, are a native insect and a member of the same family as June beetles. However, the adult rose chafer looks quite different from a June beetle. Adults are about 0.5 inches long, slender, usually light tan with long, reddish-brown legs. They are rather gangly in appearance. They are often found in mating pairs and fly during daylight hours. Adults contain a distasteful chemical; few birds can eat them without being sickened. Adult rose chafers feed on the foliage, buds, flowers and fruits of hundreds of plants.

With both of these chafers, there is a single generation per year with the adults showing up in June. The activity of adults typically lasts for only two to three weeks. Typically, they eat only the tenderest portions of leaves, resulting in damage to tender stems or broken, green to brown needles.

Rose chafers
Broken, green or brown needles from feeding by rose chafers.

In most years, adult pine and rose chafers are moderately annoying. In high population years like the past couple of years, they can be serious pests of Christmas trees, ornamentals and other crop plants, requiring pesticide sprays to protect plants from the voracious adults. Sprays may have to be applied frequently in order to protect plants from injury as it only takes a short time for a lot of feeding injury to occur when the adult population is high.

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