ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — The Sitka spruce behind the GreenWood Resources office in Seaside was so infested with spruce aphids last year it looked like it was moving on its own.
But Christine Buhl, a forest entomologist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, and David Shaw, a professor at Oregon State University, found only a few spruce aphids when they checked the tree last week, The Astorian reported.
The young tree’s most recent growth of needles looked stunted, but small buds were just beginning to swell at the branch tips — a good sign after a major outbreak threatened Sitka spruce last year.
Buhl hopes to collect more data, working with state and private timber representatives to document damage to trees. She plans to coordinate with Dan Stark, of the Oregon State University Extension Forestry in Astoria, to train citizen scientists to locate and log information about spruce trees on the North Coast.
Despite the potential for spruce aphids to impact a large number of trees, little is known about their full life cycle in Oregon or how much abuse trees can ultimately withstand and still thrive.
Aphid infestations usually boom and then bust. The first year is bad, Buhl said. But by the second year, populations decrease and by the third year, they’re hardly noticeable.
Last year’s outbreak affected nearly 11 square miles of land statewide, with some of the worst patches concentrated on the coast.