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Pine Wood Nematode

L.D. Dwinell, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
The pine wood nematode or pine wilt nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilis) has been causing widespread losses to pines in the United States since 1979. It has now been found in numerous mid-western and eastern states and has been moving to our area.
Older trees appear to be more susceptible than young trees. The nematode generally does not attack pines less than 5 or 6 years old. Scots pine Christmas trees, 7-10 years old are being severely damaged in the mid-western states by this nematode.
Recent surveys have found the nematode in Pinus serotina (pond pine), two species of larch, one species of spruce (Picea glauca) and two species of cedar (Cedrus deodara and C. atlantica). More research must be done to determine how damaging the nematode will be to these plants. The most serious damage due to the pine wood nematode at this time is to Japanese black pine planted along the Atlantic coast.

The first symptom of the pine wood nematode disease is a general wilt of the needles. As the disease progresses, a yellowing of needles appears, followed by browning and death of the entire tree. Susceptible pine species may die within 30-90 days after the first visible symptoms (longer for more resistant species). The disease can also kill individual branches in a tree. These symptoms may be easily confused with those of several bark beetles, Fomes annosus root rot, etc.
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