I have Spruce Budworms on my property. Should I be doing something to minimize the damage? And if so, what can I do?
Delta County Michigan
There are a number of different caterpillars and sawflies that can feed on the needles of conifers. Are you certain that it is spruce budworm? If so, then you might want to protect young balsam fir and spruce trees on your property with an insecticide labelled for that use. An insecticide with the active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is effective against the young caterpillars, but it may already be too late for that to have a large impact this year. I would recommend scouting for them in May next year as the buds begin to expand. Treating with Bt when larvae begin to feed on the opening buds is a good way to protect young trees. Mature trees and healthy young trees can tolerate the damage from a minor infestation of spruce budworm. If you do choose to use an insecticide, be sure to follow all of the label directions in order to ensure its effectiveness and protect the health and safety of you and others.