Phenology and Density of Balsam Twig Aphid, Mindarus abietinus Koch (Homoptera: Aphididae) in Relation to Bud Break, Shoot Damage, and Value of Fir Christmas Trees

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The balsam twig aphid, Mindarus abietinus Koch (Homoptera: Aphididae), is a major insect pest of balsam and Fraser fir grown for Christmas trees. Our objectives in this study were to 1) monitor the phenology of M. abietinus in fir plantations; 2) assess relationships among M. abietinus density, tree phenology, and damage to tree foliage; and 3) develop an esthetic injury level for M. abietinus on Christmas trees. We monitored phenology of M. abietinus and fir trees on three commercial Christmas tree plantations in central and northern Lower Michigan for 3 yr (1999–2001). Phenology of M. abietinus fundatrices and sexuparae was strongly correlated with accumulated degree-days (DD) base 10°C. Fundatrices matured by ≈83 DD10°C and sexuparae were first observed at ≈83–111 DD10°C. Trees that broke bud ≈1 wk later than other trees in the same field escaped M. abietinus damage and shoot expansion rate in spring was generally positively correlated with M. abietinus damage. Retail customers surveyed at a choose-and-cut Christmas plantation in 2 yr did not consistently differentiate between similarly sized trees with no, light, and moderate M. abietinus damage, but heavy damage (>50% damaged shoots) did affect customer perception. Similarly, when wholesale grades were assigned, the high quality Grade 1 trees had up to 40% shoot damage, whereas Grade 2 trees had 32–62% shoot damage. Two trees ranked as unsaleable had sparse canopies and distorted needles on 42% to almost 100% of the shoots.

Keywords: Fraser fir; aesthetic injury level; balsam fir; host plant phenology; integrated pest management

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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