By Michael Shamblin, WVU Extension Agent
Poplar trees around the state have been overwhelmed this year with Tulip Tree Leaf Miner (aka Sassafras Weevil or Poplar Weevil). Numerous species of predatory and parasitic insects will generally keep Tulip Tree Leaf Miner under control. However, natural enemies are not present in high enough numbers to provide sufficient control during outbreaks this year.
Damage symptoms include brown inflated mines or discolored spots that give the leaves a burned appearance. While the trees look unsightly, most healthy poplar trees will survive the feeding. Only weak or young trees are at risk of death. Insecticide use is discouraged, as the window of opportunity has passed and foliar applied products would kill the natural enemies of Tulip Leaf Miner. As difficult as it is, our best option is to let Mother Nature work.