disease/pests of Black Hills Spruce

Asked March 27, 2020, 5:19 PM EDT

I have what used to be a gorgeous stand of 5 Black Hills Spruce. Ovear the last couple of years they have either been infected or attacked by pests that have for the most part defoliated the branches. Is there a chemical treatment that can be used to 1) halt the disease/pest process, and 2) can they recover with generous application of fertilizer? Will a picture or two help, or do you need the actual specimen to provide help? Thanks, Bill Atchison (atchiso1@msu.edu)

Ingham County Michigan

1 Response

There are a few different pests and diseases that attach Black Hills Spruce. The information in the link will give you information on one disease, lirula needle blight:

But there a several others. And there is no "one cures all" chemical that will address all of the possibilities. While fertilizer may give your trees more vitality, it will not solve your problem.

Your best resource for diagnosing and treating your tree is to consult a certified arborist. An arborist is a certified and generally insured expert in trees and their problems. He or she can examine your tree and make recommendations regarding the health of the tree, any needed judicial pruning, and whether or not (in his opinion) it should be removed. You can find a certified arborist in your area here:


Click on "Find an Arborist" at the top of the page; then click on United States from the pull-down menu. Then enter your State and City. This should bring up a list of certified arborists nearest to you. Or you may be able to locate one under "Tree Services" in your local Yellow Pages.

It is possible to send a specimen to the research lab at Michigan State University; however, due to the corona virus, there are a couple more hurdles to jump before getting a diagnosis. They are no longer accepting walk-in specimens, but can be reached by email.

For plant health assessment samples and insect and plant identification, please send a preliminary email to pestid@msu.edu with digital images to see if a diagnosis/identification can be made without a physical sample. Please remember to photograph the injury symptoms both up close and at a distance, as well as include details on any patterns, timing, chemical applications, etc. This is the same information typically requested on the MSU PPD submittal form.

Please do not ship samples on Fridays as the specimen can deteriorate before the lab reopens on Monday, and whenever possible use the U.S. Postal Service. Also, please include the MSU PPD submittal form in your package (use the link above to find the form.).

To ensure the safety of our diagnostic team and their families, processing times may take longer than usual during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. Thank you for your understanding.