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Oak Pests - A Guide to Major Insects, Diseases, Air Pollution and Chemical Injury

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Diapheromera femorata

Importance. -- The walkingstick attacks oaks and other species throughout the East. Branches are killed or die back in heavily defoliated stands. Repeated defoliation for several years can kill the trees. The insects create a nuisance in high-use areas such as parks and recreation areas.

Identifying the Insect (figure 9a). -- Nymphs and adults are slender and have long thin legs and antennae. While motionless, they closely resemble twigs of their host. Adults are about 2.5 to 3 inches (62-76 mm) long. Body color varies.

Identifying the Injury (figure 9b). -- The entire leaf blade, except the base of stout veins, is consumed. During heavy outbreaks, large stands are often completely denuded. Trees may be defoliated twice during the same season.

Biology. -- Overwintering occurs in the egg stage, in leaf litter. Eggs hatch in May and June. Nymphs reach adulthood during summer and fall. Females deposit up to 150 eggs which are dropped randomly to the forest floor. There is one generation per year in the South; 2 years are required farther North.

Control. -- Natural controls are often effective. Chemical control is occasionally needed in high-use areas.

Figure 9a
Figure 9b

Figure 9. -- (a) Walkingstick adult; (b) forest stand defoliated by walkingsticks.

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