Sawfly infestation kills Colorado trees

KUSA - They look like caterpillars and they're eating their way through trees in Douglas and Elbert Counties.

One woman, who lives on 60 acres in Elizabeth, says she is dealing with an infestation of redheaded pine sawflies, an insect that feeds primarily on Ponderosa Pine trees and has a 3-week lifespan.

"They grow bigger and become a whitish color and they have demolished several of our trees in just a couple of days," says homeowner, Robin Carlson, "You can hardly see them so if you're looking on your trees, you have to look carefully."

RELATED: 9 things to know about the redheaded pine sawfly

Experts say over the years, they've seen the sawfly population increase in areas outside of the Denver metro area. They are normally seen in woodlands along the east coast.

Tony Hahn with Swingle and the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado says the recent hot, humid weather has made area woodlands a breeding ground for the insect.

"They feed voraciously in the larvae stage, or the caterpillar stage," Hahn said. "And unfortunately, if trees become severely defoliated-I'm not optimistic about their survivability."

Carlson says she is worried about the beauty and health of her property. Two Ponderosa Pine trees have already died due to sawflies.

" It's really tough to see, these trees are beautiful, and I really can't imagine living here without these trees."

Hahn says for homeowners should not be concerned by a few sawflies.

However, for homeowners dealing with an infestation, he advises consulting an expert, who will likely use an insecticide to manage the problem.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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