Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Adelges piceae
(balsam woolly adelgid)

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Datasheet

Adelges piceae (balsam woolly adelgid)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 26 March 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Adelges piceae
  • Preferred Common Name
  • balsam woolly adelgid
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. piceae was introduced from Europe into North America (Maine, first report: 1908) before or around 1900 with imported nursery stock. In the first half of the twentieth century it was spreading all over the continent from the east to the west and to...

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Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
A. piceae: adult pseudoprogrediens d.v.
TitleAdult
CaptionA. piceae: adult pseudoprogrediens d.v.
CopyrightRedia-Florence
A. piceae: adult pseudoprogrediens d.v.
AdultA. piceae: adult pseudoprogrediens d.v.Redia-Florence
A. piceae: adult pseudohiemosistens d.v.
TitleAdult
CaptionA. piceae: adult pseudohiemosistens d.v.
CopyrightRedia-Florence
A. piceae: adult pseudohiemosistens d.v.
AdultA. piceae: adult pseudohiemosistens d.v.Redia-Florence
A. piceae: hiemalis neosistens, dorsal view.
TitleAdult
CaptionA. piceae: hiemalis neosistens, dorsal view.
CopyrightRedia-Florence
A. piceae: hiemalis neosistens, dorsal view.
AdultA. piceae: hiemalis neosistens, dorsal view.Redia-Florence
A. piceae: alata exulans d.v.
TitleAdult
CaptionA. piceae: alata exulans d.v.
CopyrightRedia-Florence
A. piceae: alata exulans d.v.
AdultA. piceae: alata exulans d.v.Redia-Florence
A. piceae: adult pseudohiemosistens with eggs on Abies alba.
TitleEggs
CaptionA. piceae: adult pseudohiemosistens with eggs on Abies alba.
CopyrightAndrea Binazzi
A. piceae: adult pseudohiemosistens with eggs on Abies alba.
EggsA. piceae: adult pseudohiemosistens with eggs on Abies alba.Andrea Binazzi
A. piceae: colonization of adult pseudohiemosistentes on Abies alba.
TitleColony
CaptionA. piceae: colonization of adult pseudohiemosistentes on Abies alba.
CopyrightAndrea Binazzi
A. piceae: colonization of adult pseudohiemosistentes on Abies alba.
ColonyA. piceae: colonization of adult pseudohiemosistentes on Abies alba.Andrea Binazzi
A. piceae: damage to Abies sp.
TitleDamage symptoms
CaptionA. piceae: damage to Abies sp.
CopyrightRedia-Florence
A. piceae: damage to Abies sp.
Damage symptomsA. piceae: damage to Abies sp.Redia-Florence
A. piceae: life cycle pattern in central Italy.
TitleLife history
CaptionA. piceae: life cycle pattern in central Italy.
CopyrightRedia-Florence
A. piceae: life cycle pattern in central Italy.
Life historyA. piceae: life cycle pattern in central Italy.Redia-Florence

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Adelges piceae (Ratzeburg)

Preferred Common Name

  • balsam woolly adelgid

Other Scientific Names

  • Adelges piceae piceae
  • Chermes piceae
  • Chermes piceae bouvieri
  • Dreyfusia piceae (Ratzeburg, 1844)
  • Dreyfusia piceae bouvieri

International Common Names

  • Spanish: pulgon del abeto
  • French: chermés cortical du sapin pectiné
  • Russian: korovoi pichtovii kermes

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: aedelgranstammelus
  • Germany: Europäische Tannenstamm-Rindenlaus
  • Italy: afide lanigero dell'abete bianco
  • Norway: edelgranlus
  • Sweden: silvergranlus

EPPO code

  • ADLGPI (Dreyfusia piceae)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page A. piceae was introduced from Europe into North America (Maine, first report: 1908) before or around 1900 with imported nursery stock. In the first half of the twentieth century it was spreading all over the continent from the east to the west and to the south-east. It was then reported from New Hampshire in 1916, from California (San Francisco) in 1928, from Oregon in 1930 and from Virginia (Skyland) in 1956. At present, it occurs in the maritime provinces of Canada, in north-eastern USA and in south-western USA (Virginia and North Carolina). The most frequently attacked true fir species are Abies balsamea, Abies fraseri, Abies lasiocarpa, Abies amabilis and Abies grandis (Foottit and Mackauer, 1980, 1983). In Europe, where it is indigenous, the adelgid causes little damage to its principle host plant, Abies alba. In North America it has been reported as an important pest of several economically valuable fir species. Feeding by the adelgid causes damage to the bark and wood, and reduces tree growth, but heavy attacks to the stems and branches, seriously disrupt the trees' metabolism and can eventually lead to tree death.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Hemiptera
  •                         Suborder: Sternorrhyncha
  •                             Unknown: Aphidoidea
  •                                 Family: Adelgidae
  •                                     Genus: Adelges
  •                                         Species: Adelges piceae

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page In North America, A. piceae was recognized by Foottit and Mackauer (1983) to include three subspecies: Adelges piceae piceae in south-eastern USA (North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia) and in north-western USA (Oregon, Washington), Adelges piceae occidentalis (British Columbia, Canada) and Adelges piceae canadensis (Quebec, Canada and north-eastern USA).

Börner (1908, 1930, 1952) provided a generic subdivision of adelgids, which, in the course of the last century, was followed by authors such as Inouye (1953), Börner and Heinze (1957), Steffan (1972), Ghosh (1983) and Pashtshenko (1988). In contrast, other authors, have been following the subdivision of adelgids made by Annand (1928) in only two genera, Adelges and Pineus. This considers Börner's genera, other than Pineus, to be subgenera of Adelges (cf. Carter, 1971; Blackman and Eastop, 1994). This datasheet follows Blackman and Eastop (1994) where the Balsam woolly aphid is referred to as A. piceae as opposed to Dreyfusia piceae.

Description

Top of page Eggs

The eggs are 0.33 mm long and 0.16 mm wide, and a lengthened, ovoid shape. They are yellow at first and then they become progressively orange. At the end of embryonic development, the black eyes of the larvae are clearly visible through the chorion (Binazzi and Francardi, 2001).

Newly born larvae (pseudosistens/progrediens)

The newly born larvae are 0.30-0.45 mm long and orange-brown. When settled, the first instar larvae have a flattened reddish-brown body with a strongly sclerified dorsal integument. There are dorsal and marginal white wax threads covering the dark cephalothorax and the dorsal abdominal tergites. The identification of the species of Adelges is classically based on the first instar larva of the pseudosistens types (pseudohiemosistens and pseudoaestivosistens). The most suitable structural feature for use in identification is the number of glandular pores within the ten 'middle fields' of the spinal plates of the meso- and meta-thorax and of the first three abdominal segments. The shape of the pores and their relief, the shape of the 'middle fields' and the degree of sclerotization are also useful for identification. Within the bio-ecological patterns, the phenology of the single generations and the symptoms of attack are also useful diagnostic features. In A. piceae, the average number of glandular pores, as stated above, is less than 30 (about 26 in Italy). Other diagnostic morphological features in the neosistens forms are the shallow wax pores that vary in shape from polygonal to roundish with rounded angles, the weakly dorsal sclerotization and the sub-triangular shape of the 'middle fields' (Binazzi and Covassi, 1991). When the third instar larvae start to reach the adult stage they are blackish and become more rounded, developing a rather spherical shape (0.50 x 0.37 mm).

Adult females

They have a purplish-black, ovoid-shaped body (0.80-1.20 mm x 0.60-1.15 mm) sometimes with dorsal spino-pleural marked prominence. White woolly wax threads cover the body. The adult pseudohiemosistens females are more rounded and sclerified than mature pseudoprogrediens females. The former almost completely lack dorsal wax pores.

Alatae (exulans or exule)

These have small bodies (0.84 x 0.42 mm) and the forewings are 1.28 mm long while the hind ones are 0.75 mm. The body is light green-brown (Binazzi, 2000).

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

TurkeyPresentNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2012

North America

CanadaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced1968 Invasive Wood, 1968; Turnquist and Harris, 1993; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-New BrunswickPresentIntroduced Invasive Steffan, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroduced1949 Invasive Piercey-Normore & Berube, 2000; Milne, 1990; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Nova ScotiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-OntarioPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroduced Invasive Steffan, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-QuebecPresentIntroduced Invasive Steffan, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-Yukon TerritoryPresentIntroduced Invasive Turnquist and Harris, 1993
USAPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced1928 Invasive Steffan, 1972; Coulson and Witter, 1984; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-IdahoPresentIntroduced Invasive Livingston et al., 2000; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-MainePresentIntroduced1900 Invasive Thomas, 1968; Coulson and Witter, 1984; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-New YorkPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced Invasive Fowler et al., 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-OregonPresentIntroduced Invasive Mitchell and Buffam, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-TennesseePresentIntroduced Invasive Allen and Kupfer, 2001; Barker et al., 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced1956 Invasive Coulson and Witter, 1984; Zilahi-Balogh et al., 2002; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-WashingtonPresentIntroduced Invasive Antonelli, 1992; Mitchell and Buffam, 2001; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-West VirginiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012

South America

ChilePresentIntroduced Invasive Carter and Winter, 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2012

Europe

AlbaniaPresentNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2012
AustriaWidespreadNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2012
Bosnia-HercegovinaPresentNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2012
BulgariaPresentNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2012
Czechoslovakia (former)WidespreadNative Not invasive Pasek, 1954; CABI/EPPO, 2012
DenmarkPresentIntroduced Invasive Heie, 1999; CABI/EPPO, 2012
FranceWidespreadNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; Gaumont, 1978; CABI/EPPO, 2012
GermanyWidespreadNative Not invasive Steffan, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2012
GreecePresentNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2012
IrelandPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
ItalyWidespreadNative Not invasive Binazzi & Covassi, 1991; CABI/EPPO, 2012
-SicilyPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
LithuaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Juronis Jonaitis, 1996; CABI/EPPO, 2012
MacedoniaPresentNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2012
NetherlandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Steffan, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2012
NorwayPresentIntroduced Invasive Eichhorn, 1969; Steffan, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2012
PolandPresentIntroduced Invasive Winiarska, 1996; CABI/EPPO, 2012
PortugalPresentIntroduced Invasive Ilharco, 1996; CABI/EPPO, 2012
RomaniaWidespreadNative Not invasive Ceianu and Teodorescu, 1975; CABI/EPPO, 2012
Russian FederationPresentCABI/EPPO, 2012
-Southern RussiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Shaposhnikov, 1964; CABI/EPPO, 2012
SerbiaPresentNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; CABI/EPPO, 2012
SwedenPresentIntroduced Invasive Edimann and Ehnstrom, 1975; CABI/EPPO, 2012
SwitzerlandWidespreadNative Not invasive Eichhorn, 1969; Steffan, 1972; CABI/EPPO, 2012
UKPresentIntroduced Invasive Chrystal, 1925; Busby, 1962; Carter, 1971; CABI/EPPO, 2012

Risk of Introduction

Top of page The impact of A. piceae on true firs in North America has been strong and severe and has caused timber losses, a reduction in tree growth and viable seed production. It has often caused complete mortality of mature stands and sometimes also of the regeneration stands (balsam fir).

Growth Stages

Top of page Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

Top of page The symptoms of attack by A. piceae, especially on young trees of some North American species of fir, include buds failing to open and twigs becoming enlarged at the nodes and around the buds. These symptoms are called 'gout disease'. The shoots become distorted, turning downwards at their end and after a few seasons of attack, the stems develop a marked taper. In such cases the symmetry of the tree is lost.

List of Symptoms/Signs

Top of page
SignLife StagesType
Growing point / discoloration
Growing point / distortion
Growing point / dwarfing; stunting
Growing point / external feeding
Growing point / honeydew or sooty mould
Growing point / wilt
Leaves / abnormal leaf fall
Leaves / honeydew or sooty mould
Roots / necrotic streaks or lesions
Stems / dieback
Stems / distortion
Stems / honeydew or sooty mould
Stems / internal red necrosis
Stems / spittle mass
Stems / stunting or rosetting
Whole plant / discoloration
Whole plant / distortion; rosetting
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Biology

A. piceae is anholocyclic on Abies sp. and is native to Europe where it colonizes Abies alba and other congeneric species. In North America, A. piceae has become a serious pest on many of the indigenous species of Abies since the beginning of the last century.

In central Europe, A. piceae has one to three generations per year while in North America it may have another partial one (Antonelli, 1992). The adelgid usually overwinters as a first or second instar larva (Balch, 1952; Karafiat and Rudinsky, 1956; Harris, 1978; Covassi and Binazzi, 1981). As a rule, the number of generations per year appears to depend mostly on the altitude and on the summer and winter temperatures. It also depends on the local conditions of the fir stands (Mitchell et al., 1961). In Italy, the newly born larvae reach maturity in about 1.5-2 months in the early spring and in the autumn, while they complete their growth in only 1 month in the summer (Binazzi and Francardi, 2001).

In silver fir woods ranging from 900 to 1200 m, four to five generations per year have been counted, which depend directly on the spring/summer weather. In those habitats, A. piceae normally overwinters as a first or second instar larva and reaches the adult stage at the end of February so that the first egg-laying females occur at the end of March. In fir stands at a low altitude (under 300 m a.s.l.), A. piceae has a life cycle of five generations and overwinters as first, second or third instar larvae. They reach maturity from the end of January onwards. A similar behaviour has been observed in other lower mountain fir woods or on single trees of parks, gardens, hills and lowlands. Here pseudohiemosistens larvae start their development at the end of January and reach the adult stage from the middle of February onwards. In warmer climatic conditions, A. piceae does not have a very long quiescence time contrary to what has been observed by some authors in other geographical areas of the northern hemisphere (Mitchell et al., 1961).

The mature females are able to lay an average of 70-80 eggs per cluster, which gradually hatch within 3-4 days. From the beginning of spring onwards, the young larva develops after three moults, into an apterous adult female (pseudoprogrediens) or after four moults into an alate female (exulans). In mid-July, some of them can change into a more resistant, sclerified form (pseudoaestivosistens) without moulting during the whole of the summer. This form can reach maturity in October or spend the following winter as a pseudohiemosistens. However, all of them are able to survive the hardest climatic conditions. In Italy, the adult females have an egg-laying peak in May and June, when they appear to be most numerous from the middle to the highest levels of the host-tree crown, mainly on young tree canopies. The pseudoprogrediens egg-laying females have been observed until mid-November (Francardi et al., 1999). In central Europe, the mature females start their egg-laying in June with a peak during the summer (August to September). Egg production decreases then ceases during the early autumn (Eichhorn, 1968).

Ecology

The newly born larvae are mobile. They spread along the leading axis and lateral twigs of white fir trees. They settle on the bark or under the ring of perules at the bud bases, along the trunk or branches, and even on the protruding roots from the ground (Binazzi and Covassi, 1991). Each young larva may cover more than 30 m in the crawler stage (Harris, 1978) and this stage is more susceptible to the hardest environmental conditions and to predators (Eichhorn, 1968). After the moult, individuals of A. piceae can change their feeding sites by moving along the stem. Dispersal of the woolly aphid on the host plant can occur in a relatively short time. All of the different instar larvae of A. piceae tend to gather in small groups of at least 10-15 individuals or settle in scattered positions along the lower surface of the twigs. Here they can find damper and shadier sites, more favourable to their requirements (Balch, 1952).

When the woolly aphids increase in number, all the epigean parts of the plants (i.e. trunk, branches and twigs) can be heavily colonized even when exposed to the sun and the colonies can also be found on the exposed roots. In addition, sooty mould fungi grow plentifully on the adelgid honeydew and this fact, together with the adelgid sap sucking, often leads to the decline or death of the attacked trees. This aggressive behaviour is more common on isolated trees in parks or gardens, in critical physiological conditions. When the attacks persist, they can heavily damage the trees but when the infestation breaks down, the trees can recover. The woolly aphids overwinter inside the bark crevices (trunk and branches) or under the bud perules. In addition, the importance of other vegetative structures as feeding and overwintering sites for A. piceae is known in Europe. These include buds left by larvae of the tortricoid moth, Epinotia nigricana (Francardi and Covassi, 1992, 1994). Individuals of A. piceae have also been found in the bottom of stems mined by larvae of Argyresthia illuminatella, in regeneration areas of Abies alba (Covassi and Francardi, 1994).

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Adalia luteopicta Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; USA Abies
Adalia ronina Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada Abies
Adalia tetraspilota Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada Abies
Adalia tetraspilota bispilota Predator Adults/Nymphs USA Abies
Anatis ocellata Predator Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Aphidecta obliterata Predator Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Aphidoletes thompsoni Predator Nymphs
Chilocorus kuwanae Predator Adults/Nymphs USA Abies
Coccinella septempunctata Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada Abies
Cremifania nigrocellulata Predator Nymphs
Diomus pumilio Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; USA Abies
Exochomus lituratus Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; USA Abies
Exochomus quadripustulatus Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada Abies
Exochomus uropygialis Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; USA Abies
Harmonia breiti Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; USA Abies
Harmonia dimidiata Predator Adults/Nymphs USA Abies
Harmonia eucharis Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; USA Abies
Hemerobius neadelphus Predator Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Hemerobius stigma Predator Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Laricobius erichsonii Predator Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae British Columbia; Canada; USA Abies
Leucopis atratula Predator Nymphs
Leucopis hennigrata Predator Nymphs
Leucopis obscura Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada; USA Abies
Leucopis praecox Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada Abies
Neocnemodon vitripennis Predator Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Pachyneuron vitodurense Parasite
Phaenoglyphis xanthochroa Parasite
Rhyzobius chrysomeloides Predator
Scymnus impexus Predator Adults/Eggs/Larvae/Nymphs/Pupae
Synharmonia conglabata Predator Adults/Nymphs USA Abies
Tetraphleps abdulghani Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada Abies
Tetraphleps raoi Predator Adults/Nymphs Canada Abies

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Studies on the predator complex of A. piceae have been carried out since the 1950s by Delucchi (1956) and other authors, i.e. Pschorn-Walcher and Zwölfer (1956); Karafiat and Franz (1956); Pschorn-Walcher (1964); Thomas (1968); Eichhorn (1968, 1969); Smirnoff (1970); Harris and Dawson (1979); Coulson and Witter (1984); Fowler et al. (1986); Kevan and Klimaszewski (1987); Binazzi and Covassi (1991); Humble (1994); Carter and Winter (1998); Francardi et al. (1999); and Binazzi and Francardi (2001).

The orders and families that include important natural enemies of A. piceae are:

- Coleoptera - Coccinellidae (Aphidecta, Pullus, Anatis); Derodontidae (Laricobius).

- Diptera - Syrphidae (Neocnemodon); Chamaemyiidae (Leucopis); Cremifaniidae (Cremifania); Cecidomyiidae (Aphidoletes, Lestodiplosis).

- Neuroptera - Chrysopidae (Chrysopa); Hemerobiidae (Hemerobius).

- Moniliales - Tuberculariaceae (Fusarium).

The control of A. piceae brought about by the antagonists may regulate and sometimes minimize insect attack in small, isolated plantations of fir but it has never appeared effective in forest situations. In Europe, where A. piceae is native, damage by it is found only occasionally. Most of the antagonist species listed in the natural enemy table were introduced into the USA and Canada. Despite the acclimation of some of those enemies during the second half of the last century, many fir forests were injured by A. piceae (Smirnoff, 1971; Harris and Dawson, 1979; Coulson and Witter, 1984; Fowler et al., 1986). Over 20 species of insect antagonists of A. piceae have been introduced into North America from Europe, Asia and Australia during the last 50 years but only six of them have become established. However, neither the introduced nor the native ones have caused any significant reduction in the adelgid populations.

The native insect antagonists or the exotic species that were established in areas of North America infested with A. piceae, did not have any satisfactory effect in reducing the adelgid populations during the second half of the last century (Thomas, 1968; Smirnoff, 1970, 1971; Edimann and Ehnstrom, 1975; Harris and Dawson, 1979; Coulson and Witter, 1984; Fowler et al., 1986; Kevan and Klimaszewsky, 1987; Humble, 1994; Zilahi-Balogh et al., 2002).

Plant Trade

Top of page
Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Leaves larvae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants adults; larvae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches adults; larvae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope

Wood Packaging

Top of page
Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Loose wood packing material
Non-wood
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material with bark
Solid wood packing material without bark

Impact

Top of page In Europe, A. piceae is only rarely harmful to silver fir and to other European-Ponto-Caucasic Abies species. However, in North America the impact of this pest on true firs has been severe. In fact, A. piceae attacks have caused timber losses, a reduction in tree growth and viable seeds, and often the complete mortality of stands. A. piceae has killed millions of board feet of true fir timber since becoming established in North America around 1900 (Coulson and Witter, 1984). The impact of A. piceae was assessed on an Abies fraseri dominated stand near the summit of Mount LeConte, Tennessee (Jenkins, 2003). The adelgid had greatly altered the composition and structure of the stand which, even after 22 years, was still in a state of structural and compositional reorganization.

Environmental Impact

Top of page In North America, Fraser fir, subalpine fir and balsam fir are the most susceptible Abies species to attacks by A. piceae. Sometimes these true firs can be killed in less than 5 years when populations of A. piceae reach high levels. Under conditions of heavy attack, a white woolly material that is secreted by the insect covers the trunks and branches. This material also covers most of the adult female. The twigs and buds become swollen due to the feeding activity of the adelgid.

The impact of A. piceae attacks can be great and cause changes in the forest environment, i.e. tree growth, productivity and use. The wood physiognomy and the cycling of nutrients are affected, and thus the vegetative cycle of phytocoenosis is influenced by A. piceae attacks. Furthermore, A. piceae attacks not only kill trees but also modify the planned or projected use of the fir forests, such as timber production, grazing, wildlife, and recreation.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page A. piceae can be detected on tree trunks by the specks of white wax wool of the mature females, on the shoots by the gout-like growths caused by the adelgid sap sucking, and on the stems of young plants, by their shortening and tapering (progrediens form). The sistens generation individuals are partially concealed under bud scales or in crevices, scars or lenticels of the bark.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page A. piceae is morphologically very similar to other congeneric species from Europe and Caucasus. The identification to specific level of those species is rather difficult and based mostly on morphological features of the first instar larvae of the sistens generations, mainly of the hibernating forms (pseudohiemosistens). The main character used for identification is the number of pores within the ten 'middle fields' of the spinal plates of the meso- and meta-thorax and of the first three abdominal segments. In addition, the shape and the relief of those pores plus the prothoracic dorsal sclerotization are useful. Other suitable differentiating characters are the body length and width of the neosistens forms, the ultimate rostral segment size, and the lengths of the third antennal segment and apical seta of the same forms. See Binazzi and Covassi (1991) for a key to the species.

Prevention and Control

Top of page There are few control techniques for A. piceae available to the land manager.
Biological Control

The native insect antagonists or those species that were established in areas of North America infested with A. piceae, did not have any satisfactory effect in reducing the adelgid populations during the last century (Thomas, 1968; Smirnoff, 1970, 1971; Edimann and Ehnstrom, 1975; Harris and Dawson, 1979; Coulson and Witter, 1984; Fowler et al., 1986; Kevan and Klimaszewsky, 1987; Humble, 1994; Zilahi-Balogh et al., 2002).

Chemical Control

Insecticides sprayed from the air over forest stands were ineffective in some experiments as A. piceae females are effectively protected by the copious wax wool covering their bodies (Coulson and Witter, 1984; Hastings et al., 1986; Carter and Winter, 1998). This method is often impractical when large areas need to be sprayed because of the harmful impact this may have on the balance of the biocoenosis. Otherwise, insecticides, used in ground applications to protect Christmas trees, seed orchards and highly valued trees in parks and gardens, can be effective in reducing A. piceae population levels but they are extremely costly.

In land management, restrictions on moving true fir logs out of the infested areas or importing true fir nursery stock or ornamentals have been useful methods of control. Other effective attempts to control A. piceae have included harvesting true firs from an infested area to protect the uninfested nearby stands, shortening of the rotation age of true fir stands, or conversion to non susceptible or less susceptible fir species or to other tree species.

References

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