Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Trees of Our Little Acre - Colorado Blue Spruce

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...


Rosie's Whimsy said...

Yikes....hope you don't lose that wonderful tree. We've lost two white pines to beetles and are hoping for no more to go. I love evergreens....probably should move to Maine!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I hope your Blue Spruce is ok. It has obviously been under stress this year. Keep an eye out for those pesky bag worms and I bet it will survive.

We are still mourning the loss of a similar tree. It blew down in a storm.

We have also lost white pines to pine bark beetle.

Bob said...

Sorry about your tree. I love blue spruce but in Western Washington they can be real buggy (aphids and spidermites) so bakerii spruce are the natural substitution and are not as prone to critters.
If your tree makes it, try to keep it irrigated next year when your rain is not in the forecast. During times of drought established trees and shrubs can become stressed. This in turn weakens them and make them prone more to bugs and disease. Just like in the natures shows, the preditors go after the weak or compromised. Also you may want to get in touch with your local ag extension and see if BT spray might be effective on those worms in the future. BT is a parasite that only effect worms and catapillars. It doesn't harm any wildlife.

I hope you don't mind the advice, I would really love to see your tree make it and do well. Especially with it sentimental value.

All the best, BOB

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

I'm so sorry about your tree! I hope that you and Romie were able to do sufficient damage control and the dead foliage is from the drought like you said. It would be so sad to see that beautiful tree go away, I'm sure. I really like your technique with the lighter and the marine corp pest. Carpe fry'em! Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Oh dear! Kylee I really hope that your spruce will survive. It is such a pretty tree and there is sentimental value attached to it too.

I must admit that those bagworms creep me out and that I'm very glad that those nasty critters don't live here. Finding hundreds of them in your tree must have come as a very nasty surprise!

Muum said...

We have one like this, too. Hope it recovers next year!We had some bag worms on a bush, just two 'bags' and I cut them out and threw them in the garbage. So far, so good.

Kylee Baumle said...

Thanks for the good wishes and advice about our tree. I guess I felt because the tree was so large, we didn't really need to water it this year. We watered the younger trees, though.

Bob, I WELCOME any and all advice, so feel free to give it anytime! Thank you!

We are hoping for the best with the spruce. We have a pine tree we brought from Maine in 1979 that got hit with webworms two years ago and we were just sure that thing was a goner, but it made it!

Plants and trees are just like kids - it's always something. LOL.

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