Forest Insect Defoliators
FIELD GUIDE TO INSECTS AND DISEASES OF ARIZONA AND NEW MEXICO FORESTS
Pine-feeding Needleminers
Coletechnites spp.

Hosts:  Ponderosa pine and piñon

Figure 14. Silhouette of Coleotechnites larvae feeding inside ponderosa pine needle.Symptoms/Signs:  Adults of pine-feeding needleminers are small, narrow-winged, mottled, silvery-gray moths with a wingspan of about 10 mm. Eggs are too small, 0.2 mm in diameter, to be noticeable. Larvae are brown, 8 mm long when fully developed, and usually found mining within current year’s needles. The pupae are elongate, cylindrical black, and about 6 mm long. Needles inhabited by third and fourth instar larvae turn a faded yellow-brown in color and have several tiny holes in them for frass disposal and larval exit.

Figure 15. Closeup of needle damage caused by Coleotechnites feeding on ponderosa pine.Biology:  Adult moths emerge and fly in June and July. Eggs are laid inside previously mined needles. Larvae begin hatching in July, crawl to and mine into previously uninfested needles and overwinter. Pupation occurs in late spring.

Effects:  Persistent infestations can cause severe discoloration, defoliation, and reduced growth of stems, shoots, and needles.

Figure 16. Needle damage caused by Coleotechnites feeding on ponderosa pine.Similar Insects and Diseases: Similar symptoms, i.e., discoloration and defoliation, can result from scale insects, aphids, and needle cast diseases.  However, only the needleminers leave telltale holes in the mined needles.

References:  23, 96