Pine tree death

Asked July 31, 2018, 12:43 PM EDT

I think my White Pine trees have something wrong with them. The needles turn brown and then the whole tree seems infected. Do you know any thing about a bug killing pine trees and what can I do about it? I hope you can help me out Thanks Jerry Jaquish

Newaygo County Michigan

3 Responses

Hello Jerry,

I may be able to help you more if you would attach three pictures of the tree. Take one close up to a branch showing some green and some brown needles. Take one picture of the whole tree. And take one picture of any damaged or diseased looking areas on the trunk or branches where you might see oozing sap or holes or broken bark.

If you’re sure this is a pine tree, as opposed to fir or spruce, there are several insects and diseases that could be an issue. Here is a reference that shows some of the main problems that affect pine.

Also, please tell me about how old the trees are and, if young trees, how long ago transplanted? Have you been giving them water during very dry times?

I will be notified when you respond to this and can perhaps give you something more specific. Thank you for using our service.

Thank you. I have included the three photos for the tree that looks almost dead. That tree was here 16 years ago when we bought the property. I have three more photos of a tree that looks like it might be headed that way also, but see I can only post three pictures at a time. I'm looking forward to your response. Jerry

Thanks for the photos, always a big help.

Unfortunately the running sap down the trunk can indicate boring insects, unless you can trace it back and see that it comes from a pruned off branch wound. The wilting browning needles, with sap flow, are signs of bark beetles or other insects present under the bark. Pine wilt is carried to the tree by some of these insects and can kill a healthy tree relatively quickly, in one or two seasons. Along with that, as you saw in the link I gave you previously, a stressed tree can also have one or more needle casts or blights.

Some insects and diseases are manageable and some are not. Of course, more than one issue can be at work here, since once a tree is stressed several issues can develop.

You have a couple ways to confirm diagnosis-

Submit sample branches, and your pictures, to MSU Diagnostic Plant lab. There is a $20-25 dollar fee. Their website has the form and instructions-

Hire a certified arborist to come on site and examine all the trees, and give you your options for each one. You want an arborist, not just a tree service worker who may not have any schooling in diseases and pests. You can find certified arborists by zip code here-

I recommend hiring the arborist since submitting samples to the lab may not identify insects invading only the trunk as some do, and issues with roots, such as rot, which contribute to decline. The arborist will examine all parts of the trees and give you a plant care plan. Take action as soon as you can, to preserve the health of your other pines.

Here are some references with details on pine tree insect pests-