Pine spittlebug (Aphrophora parallela)

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U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1979. A guide to common insects and diseases of forest trees in the northeastern United States. Northeast. Area State and Private Forestry, Forest Insect and Disease Management., Broomall, PA. p. 123, illus.(USDA Forest Service, Northeast Area State and Private Forestry Publication. NA-FR-4)


The pine spittlebug is a common sap-sucking pest of many coniferous species. It prefers Scots pine, but also attacks pitch, western white, jack, slash, Virginia, loblolly, and Japanese pines; Norway, white, and red spruce; balsam fir; and eastern hemlock. Damage includes yellowing of foliage, growth loss, twig mortality, and in heavy infestations, tree death. Branch flagging progresses from new to old growth on each branch. Lower branches are the first to show effects of feeding. The overall injury resembles that caused by the Saratoga spittlebug, Scleroderris canker, or drought. Pine spittlebug infestations are identified by the presence of spittle masses. Blackened foliage, caused by growth of sooty mold fungus, may indicate old infestations.

Eggs are deposited at the base of terminal buds during July and August. When they hatch the following May, the nymphs move to the twig tips and begin feeding. The nymphs keep covered with spittle at each new location as they move toward the main trunk. A single spittle mass may have several nymphs. Young nymphs are orange and black, while full-grown nymphs range from light brown to black. Mature nymphs leave the spittle and migrate to needles, where they transform to winged adults. Adult pine spittlebugs resemble Saratoga spittlebugs in shape and color but do not have the white "arrow" design on the head and thorax. Adults continue feeding through July and August. Mating occurs about 1 week after adult emergence; egg laying continues until the week in September. There is one generation per year.

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