The Neodiprion fulviceps, or native sawfly, visits an area en masse every 10 to 15 years, said Ryan Hanavan, entomologist for the Forest Service in Arizona.
The female sawfly will split a pine needle open and lay her
The young wasps hatch in the summer, spend 40 or 50 days crawling around and eating pine needles, then fall to the ground and burrow in, growing to adulthood as fall approaches.
"We saw the sawflys effectively eating themselves out of house and home," Hanavan
said, with some bugs starving because they had entirely consumed the branches in an area.
Rodent and bird populations often follow, Hanavan
They eat the bugs that collect on the trees and dig them out of the ground.
When approached by predators, the sawflys become actors by pretending to be dead.
If left alone, the bugs defoliate pine trees, but if about 20 percent of the pine needles remain on a tree, it likely will survive, Hanavan
Then after two to three years, the bugs disappear entirely.
and research co-workers collect data on bugs and diseases by flying over national, tribal, state and private forest lands statewide yearly, looking for signs of disease and insects.
The data are used to make maps that are given to various governments for policy decisions.
In winter, Hanavan
plans to snowshoe out to various forest plots to survey insect activity.