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Disease, bugs sapping life out of area spruce trees

In this article with The Detroit News, Dave Bargerstock, district manager of Davey's South Detroit office, tells homeowners why they should take a look at the spruce trees around their property. 

Posted: March 9, 2016 

By Kyla Smith 

The deciding factor for Josh Leo to move into his home three years ago, was the row of 40-foot tall spruce trees that lined the driveway and backyard.

“It’s a pretty cool setting once you see it. That’s why we bought our home,” the Davisburg resident said. “The trees also give us privacy. It would be pretty catastrophic to lose them.”

Native to the Rocky Mountain region, Colorado blue spruce, green spruce, white spruce and blue spruce trees are very common in the Midwest. But for the past two years, the popular trees are disappearing across the state and researchers are stumped as to why.

“Spruce decline is a very complex story,” said Dr. David Roberts, academic specialist at Michigan State University. “People love the trees for their appearance and the steady growth rate, but because it’s not natural to our environment, they are more susceptible to diseases and insects.”

Roberts said the three types of diseases — needlecast, canker disease and tip blight — along with two types of insects — Gall adelgids and Spruce spider mites — are credited with the decline in spruce trees.

While there is no cure, Roberts said there are treatments that can slow down the progression of the disease.

Dave Bargerstock, district manager for The Davey Tree Expert and a certified arborist, said these diseases are not new.

“What we have noticed is that the trees are dying at a fast, alarming rate,” he said. What’s affecting the trees “appears to be a complex hybrid of diseases with a combination of a fungus and insects or mites that’s attacking the tree at once.”

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