Bah, Humbug! Insect Eating Balsam Needles



ELLSWORTH — An insect that primarily feeds on the needles of balsam fir — the evergreen most popularly used for Christmas trees and wreaths — is infesting trees across the Northeast and southern Canada, according to forestry officials.

 

The Balsam Fir gall midge insect appears on the evergreens cyclically and Christmas tree growers are worried another infestation like the one that occurred in the late 1990s may be starting up again. —JACKIE WEAVER
The Balsam Fir gall midge insect appears on the evergreens cyclically and Christmas tree growers are worried another infestation like the one that occurred in the late 1990s may be starting up again. —JACKIE WEAVER

The balsam fir gall midge, known to entomologists as Paradiplosis tumifex Gagne, generally comes in cycles and last caused a severe infestation 10 years ago. Tree growers worry a new and possibly crippling cycle may be beginning again.

“If I decided not to buy any greens that had any gall midge I wouldn’t be buying any greens,” said Jim Corliss, president of the Maine Christmas Tree Growers Association and owner of Piper Mountain Christmas Trees in Newburgh. “We can live with this level. My fear right now is that it will be worse next year.”

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