News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

Budworm outbreak may leave jack pine trees bare, dead

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
A group of jack pine trees that have been infested with jack pine budworm show browned needles on their branches.

Brown leaves and bare jack pine trees in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula may be due to an outbreak of hungry caterpillars.

The jack pine budworm is a native moth caterpillar that feeds on pine needles. Budworms can cause die-back among tree crowns and leave trees with damaged, reddish needles.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said budworm outbreaks happen every six to 12 years – and can last a few years.

This summer’s outbreak is a continuation from last year, when budworms defoliated 28,000 acres of jack pine forest.

Severe outbreaks can kill jack pine trees, and that creates fuel for wildfires. The state said it’s working to minimize wildfire risk from the short-lived – and highly flammable – jack pines.

In the interest of transparency, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is a financial support of WCMU.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
Related Content