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Spruce budworm in the backyard

The outbreak that surprised us a few years ago in Anoka County is surprising us again. Spruce budworm is still with us and going great guns in central Anoka County. White spruce in abandoned Christmas tree plantations, now 25 feet to 50 feet tall are continuing to prove to be just too tempting of a target. Usually confined to the northern and central parts of the state, this out break was triggered by the warm, dry springs that the 1987-89 Drought brought. Now in its fifth year, homeowners are being treated to spinning caterpillars, silk covered trees, and clouds of moths at the lights. It's like living "Up North" one homeowner recalled. Bt sprayed from helicopters in May is the weapon of choice, but many homeowners have delayed spraying until the caterpillars were quite large and then turned to commercial sprayers using acephate. Prices ranged from $500 to $1500 to spray around a house or a 2.5 acre lot. Pricey.

Large numbers of spruce budworms were found on white spruce just south of Brainerd June l0th. They are feeding on the new needles and will continue to cause this damage for about seven days until they pupate and later change into moths. Surveys of defoliation, bud destruction, and numbers of egg masses will be completed in July or August in northern and central Minnesota. This data will allow prediction of damage potential by this spruce defoliator in l998.