Sawfly alert

Red Deer residents are being urged to hunt down a pest that’s taking a toll on spruce trees — especially young ones in new neighbourhoods.

City of Red Deer arborist Jim Long inspects a spruce tree along 52nd St. at 47 Ave on Friday that has damage from a Spruce sawfly infestation. Inset: a sawfly larva.

Red Deer residents are being urged to hunt down a pest that’s taking a toll on spruce trees — especially young ones in new neighbourhoods.

The City of Red Deer reports that controlling the yellowheaded spruce sawfly during the next two weeks is crucial to stopping its spread.

The insect has been present in Red Deer for several years and populations continue to grow. It attacks Engelmann, white, black and blue spruce.

Elaine Johnson, urban forester for the city, said it’s especially bad in newer areas.

“The sawfly favours young trees, so neighbourhoods such as Inglewood, Kentwood, Johnstone Park and Johnstone Crossing are being hit particularly hard,” said Johnson. “The sawfly presence is also strong in Edgar Industrial Park. They are damaging trees throughout the city, but those areas are being affected the worst.”

The sawfly larvae are easy to spot. Adults are about 2.54 cm long and resemble small green caterpillars. Their heads are yellowish-brown and they have grey-green stripes running the length of their bodies.

They usually feed first on new foliage before moving onto older foliage. Damage may only appear on sections of the tree, but repeated attacks severely retard the height and radial growth of the tree and will eventually kill it.

The sawfly has one generation per year. It overwinters as larvae in soil-encrusted cocoons beneath trees.

Residents can pick the larvae by hand or prune the tips of branches where the larvae live.

Larvae and pruned tips should be disposed of in sealed garbage bags.

People can also use a high-pressure water spray to blast the larvae. Small larvae won’t be able to crawl back onto the tree, but adults may if they’re not removed after spraying.

“The yellowheaded spruce sawfly will continue to re-infect trees each year until the trees die,” said Johnson. “Our trees are a treasure that we can’t afford to lose, and dealing with the sawfly now is the only way to stop its spread to more Red Deer trees.”

Chemical controls can be found through the local garden centre or pest management companies. For more information on the sawfly and other pests, see www.reddeer.ca/parks or call Parks Department staff at 403-342-8344.

Just Posted

More than $25k raised for Red Deer firefighter who is recovering in hospital

‘I think the support he’s getting is because of the person he is’

Lacombe backs Blackfalds stormwater plan

Stormwater management plan will open up more land for development in Blackfalds

Two men facing charges in alleged abduction

RCMP issued alert for woman on Wednesday morning who was found safe later that day

Red Deer RCMP seek public assistance to identify suspect in indecent acts

Red Deer RCMP are looking for a man believed to be responsible… Continue reading

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Leon Draisaitl has overtime winner as Edmonton Oilers down Boston Bruins 3-2

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid set up Leon Draisaitl for the overtime winner… Continue reading

Edmonton girl guide sells out of cookies in front of cannabis store on first day

EDMONTON — She’s being called one smart cookie. As people lined up… Continue reading

New vacuum needed: Calgary family adopts three bonded St. Bernard buddies

EDMONTON — Three adult St. Bernards who couldn’t be separated because they’re… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Most Read