Outbreak of spruce budworms threatens northern Michigan trees

Jun 18, 2015

The spruce budworm attacks the tops of trees and works its way down.
Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A tiny worm is causing big problems for spruce trees in northern Michigan.

The state Department of Natural Resources says an infestation of spruce budworms is attacking balsam fir trees, as well as white and black spruce. The inch-long worms consume the trees’ needles from the top down.

DNR forester Ron Murray says it’s been decades since Michigan has seen such a large outbreak.

“The spruce budworm is a cyclical pest that comes around about every 30 to 50 years," says Murray. "We’re looking at this as potentially being the beginning of the next one.”

The current spruce budworm infestation has been spotted in swampy areas in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. Trees that are more than fifty years old are at an especially high risk.

DNR advises homeowners to check their trees for spruce budworms. The worms can be removed with garden-variety insecticides.