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Watch for Pine Wilt

Pine wilt, caused by the pinewood nematode, was discussed in issue No. 8 of Home, Yard and Garden Pest Newsletter. We have confirmed several cases of pine wilt at the Plant Clinic in the last two weeks, so it is appropriate to review the symptoms of this disease. Trees dying now were likely infected in spring or summer.

Watch for the appearance of entire dead branches or sudden decline and death of an entire pine within a few weeks or months of initial symptoms. Be particularly suspicious of 15- to 20-year-old Scotch pines with these symptoms. Austrian pine is the only species that may show tip dieback as the first symptom. For symptoms on white pine, see issue No. 12 of this newsletter. (Although we have assayed many white pines for pinewood nematodes, we have never confirmed the pinewood nematode in that species.)

Sawyer beetles vector the nematode from pine to pine. Because there is no easy way to stop the beetle and because no treatments exist for infected trees, early detection is critical to disease control. To break the disease cycle, quick removal of an infected tree is important. Consult Report on Plant Diseases No. 1104 for details about pine wilt.

Author: Nancy Pataky


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