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NC State Extension

Additional Pests to Recognize

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The following are some additional pests that you might find while scouting.

pine needle scale

pine needle scale

Pine needle scale: The pine needle scale is native to North America, but there are different species in different regions. These can only be distinguished by a trained entomologist. The presence of pine needles scales has resulted in regulatory scrutiny with plant materials sent to other states. Otherwise, this pest have never developed into a problem with Fraser fir Christmas tree production.

How to identify pine needle scale:

  • Examine any shoots with mottling for scales on the underside of needles.
  • Pine needle scales are long, white to greyish white with a yellow, pointed apex. They are distinguished from elongate hemlock scale because there are no brown scales and no filaments emerging from the white scales.
  • Underneath the female scales there may be dozens of oblong, rosy-purple eggs.
  • Crawlers are oval and light purple to reddish brown.



Root aphids feeding on a root

Root aphids feeding on a root

Root aphids: Root aphids feed on Fraser fir roots. They may be observed when lifting transplants or associated with young trees with stunted growth and poor color.

How to identify root aphids:

  • Root aphids are white to pale yellow. They are found on roots typically grouped together.
  • Trees may exhibit symptoms of yellow needles and stunted growth.
  • Ants may be found caring for root aphids. Ant galleries around roots may dry them out.



Weevil feeding on Fraser fir shoot

Weevil feeding on Fraser fir shoot

Terminal feeders:  There are several kinds of pests that occasionally feed on the terminals of Fraser fir Christmas trees. Typically, only the damage is seen and not the pest itself. Pests include Pales weevils, Sawyer beetles, Japanese beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars such as Campaea perlata and Elaphria versicolor. In most cases, by the time damage is observed, there will be little further damage.

How to identify terminal feeders:

  • Observe irregular patches of damaged bark on terminals.
  • It is hard to ‘catch’ these pests in the act of feeding. Some only feed at night, but may be found early in the morning or on cloudy days.
  • Caterpillars, weevils, and beetles should be identified to species. If found, send to Plant Disease and Insect Clinic for positive identification.



Bagworms:  Bagworms have a very wide host range but are usually associated with arborvitae or junipers. They are not common on Fraser fir. However, there have been a few Fraser fir Christmas tree fields where bagworm numbers have increased to the point that treatment was recommended.

How to identify bagworms:

  • Green or brown bags resembling cones about 1 to 3 inches hanging from shoots. Caterpillars remain within protection of bags.
  • Shoots defoliated of needles.

For more information on additional pests including photographs and control recommendations, see Minor Pests.

For the complete Fraser fir scouting manual for western North Carolina, see Scouting Manual.