Female pinyon needle scales have already laid their eggs in the Payson area, according to the state division of forestry.
This complex native insect which defoliates and kills pinyon pines has emerged in southeast Payson, the Trailwood subdivision on the west side of town, Beaver Valley Estates and Round Valley in Gila County.
Due to the recent warm winter, female scales have already emerged from their over-wintering stage on the needles in these areas. Females lay noticeable clusters of yellow eggs held together in loose, white, cottony webbing mainly in branch forks, along the underside of branches, on the trunk, and at the base of the tree. The females die shortly after egg laying is completed and can be seen imbedded in the egg mass.
Heavily infested pinyons have yellow or orange discoloration of the older needles toward the back of the branch. The needles are covered with small, black, bean-shaped scales which pierce the foliage and remove the sap, causing the needles to discolor, dry, and fall off. The insects can kill small trees in a few years, but larger trees often lose branches but take many years to die. Death comes more quickly to pinyons growing on drier rocky outcrops, south and west facing slopes and transitional zones between pinyon-juniper and grassland vegetation types.
Control of this stage of the insect involves:
Step 1: Wash the eggs off branches and trunk with a garden hose equipped with a high-pressure nozzle and allow eggs and litter one to two days to dry.
Step 2: Rake eggs, litter and debris out from under the tree.
Step 3: Properly dispose of the eggs in plastic garbage bags.
Most of the eggs have been laid by the females and egg hatch usually occurs in May. But due to the warm temperatures, the eggs may hatch by the end of April. Don’t wait — remove the egg masses as soon as possible!
Unless there are local water restrictions, consider slow, deep, and infrequent watering of your infested pinyons nearest your home, starting as soon as your soils dry out, with a soaker hose placed around the drip line of the tree. Continue watering until “monsoon” rains are well established.
Also refer to the pinyon needle scale publication issued by the Cooperative Extension at: http://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/insects/az1315. pdf and their watering brochure at: http:// cals.arizona.edu/pubs/water/az1298.pdf.
For information on fire prevention treatments: http://www.firewise.org/Information/ Who-is-this-for/Homeowners.aspx.
For further information about forest health concerns in the Payson area, contact Bob Celaya, forest health specialist, Office of the State Forester, at (602) 771-1415.