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Extension > Garden > Diagnose a problem > What's wrong with my plant? > Evergreen Trees and Shrubs > Pine > Yellow to reddish brown needles

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Pine > Needles > Yellow to reddish brown needles on part to most of the tree

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  • Glyphosate herbicide damage 1
  • Glyphosate herbicide damage 2
  • Glyphosate herbicide damage 3

Glyphosate herbicide damage
(e.g. Roundup)

  • Needles retain shape but turn pale yellow to reddish-brown
  • If damage is severe, needles drop and branches may die
  • Symptoms occur a few days to several weeks after herbicide application
  • Dead or dying weeds expressing similar symptoms may be present nearby
  • More information on Glyphosate herbicide damage
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  • Air pollution 1
  • Air pollution 2
  • Air pollution 3

Air pollution

  • Yellow, brown or dead needles
  • May effect entire needle or cause spots or areas of discoloration
  • May effect entire tree or be noticeably confined to one or more areas
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  • Pine needle scale 1
  • Pine needle scale 2
  • Pine needle scale 3

Pine needle scale
Chionaspis pinifoliae

  • Adults are small white, 1/8 inch long flecks on needles; visible all year
  • Immature crawlers are active in May; are reddish-brown and the size of pinhead
  • Light infestations generally don't show symptoms
  • Moderate to heavy infestations can cause needles to discolor and even branches to die
  • Attacks all pine as well as other evergreens
  • More information on Pine needle scale
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  • Pine tortoise scale 1
  • Pine tortoise scale 2
  • Pine tortoise scale 3

Pine tortoise scale
Toumeyella parvicornis

  • Moderate feeding can cause needles to yellow and become shortened
  • Heavy infestations can cause shoots and branches to die back
  • Feeding produces honeydew which can cause sooty mold
  • Individual scales are reddish-brown, helmet-shaped and up to ¼ inch long when mature
  • More information on scale insects
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  • Pine spittlebugs 1
  • Pine spittlebugs 2
  • Pine spittlebugs 3

Pine spittlebugs
Aphrophora parallela

  • White foamy mass on twigs and needles
  • Small (up to ¼ inch), black and pale yellow nymphs on underside of needles
  • Light infestations generally do not cause noticeable symptom
  • Moderate to severe feeding can cause needle yellowing, shoot flagging and twig dieback
  • Prefers Scots, Austrian and eastern white pine
  • More information on Pine spittlebugs
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  • Saratoga spittlebugs 1
  • Saratoga spittlebugs 2
  • Saratoga spittlebugs 3

Saratoga spittlebugs
Aphrophora saratogensis

  • Yellowing needles eventually turn reddish-brown and die
  • Flagging shoots/branches (occasionally)
  • Favors plantations of young red, jack and Scots pine, occasionally white pine and balsam fir in; older trees less susceptible to attack
  • Generally only a problem in the northern 1/3 of Minnesota
  • Adults are tannish, wedge-shaped, from ¼ -3/8 inch long
  • More information on Saratoga spittlebugs
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  • Black pineleaf scale 1
  • Black pineleaf scale 2
  • Black pineleaf scale 3

Black pineleaf scale
Nuculaspis californica

  • Individual needles discolored red or yellow
  • Severe infestations can kill branches or even entire trees
  • Stressed pines of all species are particularly susceptible
  • Insects are tiny (a little more than 1/16 of an inch long) gray to black, oval shells
  • Often found with pine needle scale
  • More information on Black pineleaf scale

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