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Seed and cone insects: a predator/ prey cycle

Many areas of the state last year had bumper crops of white pine, white spruce and red pine cones. With such an abundant food source, numerous seed and cone insects successfully reproduced and increased in numbers. These increased "cone predator" populations are now attacking this year's limited cone crop. Since cone crops following a bumper yield are normally smaller, a larger percentage of this year's cones may be hollowed out or aborted early by insect feeding. So, look closely when buying conifer cones this fall! Seed bugs, coneworms and cone beetles are at high levels. An excellent review reference is the 1980 publication "Cone and Seed Insects of North American Conifers" by Hedlin, Yates, Tovar, Ebel, Koerber and Merkel. For additional information, contact your State Forest Nursery.