Monday, April 20, 2009

They're Baaaack!

The bad news first: Those that read this blog might remember about 1 year ago, we noticed our Mugo Pines being attacked by European Sawfly larvae, which we found to be voracious consumers needle by needle (actually many needles simultaneously) until more than 1/2 of our beautiful pines were scarred. We found them by accident one day.

Luckily I had been shooting images of these same mugos only one week or so before, and they were not noticed at that time (nor any evidence in my images), however, at one point we started noticing how measley our pines were beginning to appear.
Once we actually looked at them closely, we realized that they were looking back at us, and they were all snapping their bodies at the same time (perhaps in an attempt to drive away a predator). So after researching them (This is how I originally met Deb (Garden Author)), we decided we had to eradicated them, right then and there.
Afterward, we notified our local Extension Service about our infestation (in addition to furnishing them with images). It was then, that I became aware of the extent of their damage and later, it got to the point where I started to notice other mugos in town that had been happily chomped upon. It was a learning experience, for me.

Well now, this year I have been noticing that our mugos have been setting their candles (now about 1" high) and I figured we would have to start inspecting them again. This very afternoon my husband came in with a long face and said "they're baaaack..."

So I grabbed my camera and went outside to see them.
Notice their formation at the dinner table.

A classic attack, note the yellow tan spots on the needles.
This is where the eggs were laid last Fall,
and the larvae can be seen with shiny black heads.
On the image below, note the white circled area, and just remember it, for the time being.

The good news: We caught them early, very early, quite possibly their very first day.
I shot images for you to see.
They ate well for their first (and last) meal.

This image and the image below shows the larvae having eaten a needle all the way to the base. Note how they work together ringing the circumference while consuming the needles.

Comraderie gets the job done.

Now for the white circles. Get your mojo hat on for this one, if need be. I did, because I found it a bit creepy (literally).

In the first image with a circle (above, image 2), note the little black spot within the circle. This item is another angle of view from the bottom circle below.

I am so glad I am as old as I am and need my reading glasses for everything, because if I were able to focus on this, I would have had the creepy crawlies all night.

In the images below and right, the circle has become 3 circles. These circles are showing the processing of hatching and eating through the pine needle, and emerging from the the edge of the needle. (top circle shows the head just below the surface, the needle split open, middle circle showing a slit either just opened or the larva just emerged. In the bottom circle the larvae's head is poking up, perhaps getting its first view of dinner.)
Here's looking at you!
They're gone now...
But we'll be keeping a vigilant watch over the remaining tan spots on those needles.

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