For the past two years, jack pine budworms have defoliated jack pines in Beltrami, Becker, Hubbard, Wadena, Cass and Crow Wing counties. Large outbreaks of the worms occur approximately every 12 years in northern Minnesota, causing the new growth needles of jack pines to turn from green to red by early July. Then the caterpillars are done for the year. If the outbreak continues for two to three years, some of the older jack pines can die.
This summer, there's a new twist to the outbreak: an unprecedented jack pine budworm outbreak on red pine trees in the same counties. But the short-term effects of this defoliation should be minimal on the red pines, said Jana Albers, a forest health specialist with the DNR.
"We've had a few landowners call us with concerns about the reddening of their jack and red pines," Albers said. "If a landowner's red pine happened to turn a little bit red this summer, I'm telling them not to get too concerned at this point, because the red pines have already set buds and will grow again next year."
While Albers believes it's too early to worry about effected red pines, she commonly recommends that dead and dying jack pines be harvested while they're still worth harvesting. It's unknown what, if any, long-term impacts will occur if this budworm outbreak continues in red pines. DNR foresters will continue to evaluate the trees this fall and next spring.
"Jack pine budworm outbreaks typically last two to three years in jack pines and one to two years in red pines,' Albers said. "DNR monitors forest health by flying aerial surveys.
The surveys of the affected counties will be completed by the end of the month, so we will have a better picture of the extent and severity of the outbreak on both the jack pine and red pine stands at that time."
For more information about jack pine budworms, contact DNR forestry at 833-8700.
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