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White Stuff On Pine Tree Needles

When I first saw the pines, I was fascinated by their long needles, beautiful bark texture, and sturdy trunk. Later, I started growing decorative pines in my garden. It seemed that due to their strength and energy, they could not be damaged.

However, like all living organisms, they have natural enemies, one of which is Chionaspis pinifoliae. This pest looks like white spots on pine needles. Next, let’s talk about how it looks and how to deal with it.

White Stuff On Pine Tree Needles

White Stuff On Pine Tree Needles

Short description of this pest

Chionaspis pinifoliae is common in the US and Canada. It can be found both in the wild and in gardens. This insect parasitizes coniferous plants, mainly pine and spruce.

Females have a length of 0.11 inches, and their body is white. The males are smaller than the females, their length is 0.06 inches, and they are also white. Their shape is elongated, slightly extended in the back.

During the breeding season, females sit on needles and winged males fertilize them. After some time the females lay eggs and die. Their bodies serve as a cover for the eggs. In this form, eggs can spend the whole winter.

Two generations of this pest can grow in a year. The first appears in the spring when and the second in late summer. Young caterpillars crawl through the pine in search of fresh needles, then form their cocoons in a new place.

These insects use the wind to move to other plants. Birds can also transport them. Females spend their entire lives undercover. One female lays up to 40 eggs.

What damage can be done?

The young caterpillar picks a new needle and settles on it, and they look like white powder. Then it sucks the juices from the needles until the needles do not turn yellow. With a small number of these pests, only needles will be affected, but if they become many, then they can severely damage pine trees.

There have been cases where pines have died from the damage of this pest. Here is a small table showing the conifers that this insect can infest.

Name Can be damaged Context
Mugo pine yes main
Easter White pine yes main
Scots pine yes main
Black pine yes main
Red pine yes main
Blue spruce yes other
Alberta spruce yes other
Fir yes other
Norway spruce yes other

In the left column are the names of the evergreens that are affected by this pest. The Context column shows which plants this insect prefers.

Dwarf mugo pine, along with Scots pine, is the most liked by this beetle. Therefore, if you are growing varieties of these pines, be careful and make sure that the needles are not covered with white.

How to deal with this pest?

Before doing anything, you need to make sure that it is Chionaspis pinifoliae. Take a piece of paper, put it under a branch, and shake the white powder onto the paper. Then fold the paper in two and rub it, and if it turns red, you’re in trouble.

Next, we will talk about methods of how to defeat this pest. They can be divided into chemical and organic methods. Let’s determine which ones are more effective than others. I will also talk about the safety of their use.

Nature-friendly ways

If your pine is not yet highly infected with these pests, remove the needles on which these insects have settled. You can also remove a couple of branches if the pest has spread more.

After that, fertilize the pine. It is best to use long-acting fertilizers that will feed the plant throughout the season. Also, do not forget to water it, especially in hot weather.

This method will safely get rid of the pest, and proper watering and fertilizing will give the plant the strength to survive.

Beneficial insects that are natural enemies of Chionaspis pinifoliae will help you fight these pests. Getting them into your garden is quite difficult.

One of the most effective remedies against this pest is Dormant Oil. It is toxic-free and is entirely safe for humans and pets.

Prepare the Dormant Oil mixture according to the instructions and spray the pine trees thoroughly. Treatment is best done in the early spring when the insects have not yet woken up, and there is no young growth.

I also often use Dormant Oil. It is not as effective as a systemic insecticide, but less harmful to nature.

Chemical methods

Insecticidal soap is an excellent tool for controlling these white insects, and it is quite safe. Use only approved manufacturers. Homemade and untested insecticidal soap can damage your plants.

This solution is easy to apply with a sprayer on your plants, and it does not require special skills.

Systemic insecticide is heavy artillery against these beetles. Use this only when you have tried all the previous methods and did not work. The advantage of the insecticide is its high efficiency, and they also protect the plant for the whole season and from all other insects.

I also use insecticides, as it is often difficult to remove some pests with other methods. The disadvantages of this are the toxicity to humans, animals, and beneficial insects. So use it with caution.

It is best to treat the plants with an insecticide solution twice a year in the spring. The first time in the early spring, when the insects are already active, but there is no new growth for the pines. The second time when young growth is ripe. After such treatment, the plants are safe throughout the season.

It is best to apply the solution with a quality sprayer. Also, when working with insecticide, I use:

  • rubber gloves;
  • mask;
  • glasses.

After that, I carefully clean all the tools and wash my hands. I also wash all my clothes and shoes.

Despite the toxicity of this method, I continue to use it because of its high efficiency.

You can combine these methods to increase efficiency. For example, you can spray the pine with a solution of Dormant Oil and fertilize it well. Then, during the season, water the plant and remove infected pine needles. This way, you can get rid of this pest even without the use of toxic chemicals.

People also ask

Do you need to deal with this pest in winter?

In winter, the eggs of this insect are covered with a white wax coating, and they are in hibernation. Chemical treatment will do nothing as the coating will protect them. Also, in the winter, they are not harmful. It is best to start working with them in early spring.

What can be done to prevent this insect?

If you want to prevent damage to pines, it is best to treat the plants with an insecticide. However, this method is toxic, and you decide whether to apply it.

Can this beetle damage the Ponderosa pine?

Yes, it can damage all species and varieties of conifers. There is information that this beetle can feed on even deciduous trees.

Are Young pines also at risk of this pest?

Young pines are particularly at risk because they do not have as many branches and needles as adult plants. Therefore, the damage can be much more severe.

Will pine recover after damage to Chionaspis pinifoliae?

If not all the needles were damaged and you destroyed the pest in time, then the pine will recover.