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1471 Views 4 Replies Last post: Mar 31, 2012 2:29 PM by jaguarondi RSS
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Mar 30, 2012 6:49 PM

ID help please on insects invading pine tree !

Hi all,  Thanks all so much in advance for your advice. I have a pine tree in my back garden that is approx 50ft tall.  Over the past week or so I have noticed a significant increase in wasps flying around it. Looking closer it seems that the tree is giving off a significant amount of resin both on the branches and on the individual needles. many of the needles on the lower branches seem speckled now also.  Anyway on closer inspection I noticed the branches are infested with an as yet unidentified insect, bunched in groups of whats seems hundreds (ranging in size from a few mm - Im assuming babies to approx 8mm - Im assuming adults) Ive tried my best to identify but to no luck, so this is where you knowledeable people may be able to help. Ive attached a photo.  Can anyone help and as importantly do you know if I have to worry !! Is my pine tree under attack from this insect or wasps !  Many thanks again....
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    Mar 30, 2012 7:58 PM (in response to mikeyofboro)
    Re: ID help please on insects invading pine tree !

    These are aphids and I would plump for Cinara confinis, one of our largest aphids (in the UK) sometimes achieving 8mm in body length. This aphid usually colonises firs (Abies spp) and Cedrus deodara (Himalayan Cedar). I have been informed in the past that they are usually found on trees that are already stressed, drought for example, but are not usually a problem on healthy trees.

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    Mar 31, 2012 10:44 AM (in response to mikeyofboro)
    Re: ID help please on insects invading pine tree !
    Hi, the wasps are only attracted to the honey dew secreted by the aphids. The aphids secrete honey dew because the amount of protein in the sap is very low in comparison to sugars. The aphids need the protein for normal metabolism, just like us, so have to consume a lot of sap to get enough protein, they then excrete the excess sugars as honey dew, which ants and wasps love... The wasps might also be eating the aphids themselves too.
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        Mar 31, 2012 2:29 PM (in response to mikeyofboro)
        Re: ID help please on insects invading pine tree !
        On crops and garden plants aphid populations will eventually be brought under control by natural predators and diseases. However, occasionally these can be slow to respond and the aphid population may increase to damaging levels before they can bring it back down. It may be worth keeping a eye on the Cinara population yourself and checking whether there are any predators, such as ladybirds and lacewings and their larvae, at work. I've seen plenty of these about this spring. I haven't seen any hoverflies, whose larvae are also predators - it's probably too early for them. It's probably too early also for diseases to wipe out colonies. Ladybirds and lacewings are your best bet.
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