pine tips dropping #383044

Asked January 25, 2017, 12:33 AM EST

I have read the descriptions of red squirrel damage.  My pines are dropping puddles of new tips at the end of every branch, beginning last fall and escalating into the winter.    I have yet to see a squirrel in the trees, though I'm sure we have some.  I would be astounded if the squirrels only recently showed up to produce this damage, having left the stand of trees intact for years.  I have not found evidence of chewing on either the dropped tips, or the branches.  As I have thousands of the tips puddling on my driveway, I too, am looking for an alternate explanation.  It smells lovely, but the trees won't last long at this rate.  

Sanilac County Michigan

Expert Response

A tree that is still dropping green, healthy tips now is squirrel damage, as they stay active all winter.

If you have fresh samples now, you can submit them to MSU Diagnostic lab  for an opinion. Include the submission form from the website, and pictures of the whole tree. This service is usually free, or sometimes has a small fee. You may call the lab if you have questions on what they need or how to mail samples. Include several samples and only fresh ones.  Their website is

If you haven't seen the article on squirrel damage here it is, with pictures of typical damage-

 Excluding the squirrels from the tree is the only practical way to stop the pruning. To try excluding the squirrels from a tree you can:
Trim limbs and trees to 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) away from buildings to prevent squirrels from jumping from roof to tree.
Prevent squirrels from climbing isolated trees by encircling them with a 2-foot-wide (61-cm) collar of metal 6 feet (1.8 m) off the ground. Attach metal using encircling wires held together with springs or adjustable clamps to allow for tree growth.

Most healthy trees will recover from from this pruning action. Squirrel populations, like everything in nature, have higher years and lower years. Your neighborhood may have a high population now and so feeding pressure may be higher than past years. Hawks and other prey animals will eventually reduce the population.

If the tips are brown or distorted, please write again and include pictures, as this indicates a different problem. Thanks for using our service.

Laura S1612 Replied January 26, 2017, 11:38 AM EST

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