Shortly after we moved here in 1977, my mom and dad bought a Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens var. glauca) tree for us, which we planted in the front yard. It has grown to be a gorgeous thing and we just recently purchased two more and planted them somewhat nearby. Planting those may prove to be an act of replacement rather than addition.
I was out taking pictures of the sunset a few weeks ago and happened to notice the pine cones hanging from the large blue spruce, except that they didn't quite look like pine cones exactly. A closer look told me that the pine cones were bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis). UGH.
I had seen one earlier in the summer on our Bald Cypress and was grossed out when I removed that one and cut the bag open to reveal the disgustingly ugly worm inside. That thing looked like it belonged in the Marine Corps. I swear, it was wearing full battle dress and when I tried to fry it with the lighter, it took it forever to die. I know, that's macabre, but it was just that ugly and capable of mass destruction.
So when I saw all those bags hanging on our beautiful blue spruce, I went into somewhat of a panic and got Romie out there and we began pulling those things off by the tens. In the end, we probably removed close to a hundred of them and then we prayed they hadn't done too much damage.
But last night, we noticed the tree had yellowing and some dead needles. It may be that it's due to the drought we have suffered this summer, but it just might be those bag worms causing it, too. We won't really know if the tree has been fatally affected until next year, but it will be a shame if we lose this 30-year-old, 20-foot-tall majestic beauty.
In the meantime, we'll be more vigilant in the spring and summer and watch for these things so we can prevent them from doing their damage. Ichneumonid wasps are a natural predator, and we had some of those this year, but apparently they missed each other in the hall...