Field Guide to Common Insect Pests of Urban Trees in the Northeast

Hanson, T., and E. B. Walker. [n.d.] Field guide to common insect pests of urban trees in the Northeast. Waterbury, VT: Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.


Examination and use of many other manuals, particularly those of Forestry Canada, helped us to develop this field guide. Photographs were taken by E. Bradford Walker, Ron Kelley and Kathy Decker. In 2002, Jessica J. Rykken was instrumental in preparing additions to the 1996 version of the guide. Barbara Burns, Ron Kelley, Steve Sinclair, Brent Teillon, Jim Boone, John Grehan, Tess Greaves, and Luke Curtis reviewed early drafts and provided valuable comments and suggestions. Richard Dearborn (Maine Forest Service Insect and Disease Laboratory) and Bob Childs (Coordinator, Urban Forestry Diagnostic Laboratory, University of Massachusetts) helped with the technical content of the guide. We are grateful to Ginger Anderson and Brian MacDonald (FPR Conservation Education) for suggestions and assistance in the preparation of this publication for printing. Special thanks go to Brenda Greika (State of Vermont Graphic Center) for design skills and fine attention to detail and to Peter Holm (Black Lab) for excellent prepress services. The support of Amy Snyder, USFS, Forest Health Protection, is gratefully acknowledged.

Funding for publication of this field guide was provided by the United States Forest Service, State and Private Forestry, Northeastern Area.

Printing was funded in part by the Vermont Association of Professional Horticulturist.


Keeping trees healthy in urban settings is often a challenging task. Urban surroundings, with compacted or disturbed soils, limited growing space, air pollution, and human pressures are very hard on trees.

Trees are valuable resources that require long-term care. Insects and diseases pose two of the most serious threats to tree health. The early diagnosis of problems before long-term injury occurs is a crucial step and can depend on the observation of several signs and symptoms at once or in sequence. For example, the conclusion that a particular insect agent is at work often rests on evidence of characteristic feeding activity, time of season the damage has occurred, observation of the insect itself, and knowledge of the host/insect history.

This field guide has been prepared to provide tree health managers with a means for field identification of some common insect pests associated with trees in urban settings, with an emphasis on the behavior and the habitat needs diagnostic of each insect. The guide is arranged in sections by principal host. Conifers are listed first, followed by deciduous trees. Within each host category, insects are presented in alphabetical sequence, based on common name. Scientific names, including genus, species, order and family, are listed at the bottom of each entry. Alternative or secondary hosts are also listed for those species feeding on several trees. The principal characteristics of the insect, part of the tree that is damaged, and evidence of infestation are described, along with a brief outline of biology and management options. Specific chemical recommendations are not included because of frequent changes and variations from state to state. Check with your local extension agent for details.

Eight primary references are cited throughout the manual. These references can provide details and help you verify your diagnosis, and are an integral part of the resource base for many practitioners.

References cited include:

Drooz, A.T. 1985. Insects of Eastern Forests. USDA Forest Service Miscellaneous Publication 1426. 608 pp.

Johnson, W.T. and Lyon, H.H. 1991. Insects That Feed on Trees and Shrubs. 2nd edition. Cornell University Press. 560 pp.

Martineau, R. 1984. Insects Harmful to Forest Trees. Agriculture Canada Government Publishing Centre, Supply and Services, Ottawa. 261 pp.

Rose, A.H. and Lindquist, O.H. 1980. Insects of Eastern Larch, Cedar and Juniper. Can. For. Serv. Forestry Tech. Rep. 28. 100 pp.

Rose, A.H. and Lindquist, O.H. 1997. Insects of Eastern Hardwood Trees. Canadian Forest Service Publication, Forestry Technical Report 29. 304 pp.

Rose, A.H. and Lindquist, O.H. 1999. Insects of Eastern Pines. Canadian Forest Service Publication 1313. 128 pp.

Rose, A.H. and Lindquist, O.H. Revised by Syme, P. 1994. Insects of Eastern Spruces, Fir and Hemlock. Canadian Forest Service Publication. 159 pp.

Solomon, J.D. 1995. Guide to Insect Borers of North American Broadleaf Trees and Shrubs. Agric. Handbook. 706. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Agric., Forest Service. 735 pp.

The distribution and significance of urban tree pests is always evolving, either through new introductions or changes in the status of local species. In anticipation of this situation, the guide is made up of a series of individual leaflets, numbered and tabulated separately for each tree host species, allowing further leaflets to be incorporated. Trees included in the 1996 version included balsam fir, pine, spruce, beech, birch, crabapple and cherry, honeylocust, locust, maple, mountain ash, and oak. In 2002, pests of cedar, hemlock and poplar were added. A total of 55 insects and mites are described, and there are over 100 color plates. In order to maintain the leaflet format, photographs that accompany insect and mite descriptions are on the back of the text page, rather than opposite the text.

In the interest of disseminating important information about forest health, the Forestry Division of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) is pleased that the text and photographic images of the Field Guide to Common Insect Pests of Urban Trees in the Northeast by Trish Hanson and E.B. Walker to be used on the Forest Pests website of the Bugwood Network of the University of Georgia.

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