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Species Page

pine-top weevil

Pissodes piniphilus
This information is part of a full datasheet available in the Crop Protection Compendium (CPC). Find out more information on how to access the CPC.
©CAB International. Published under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.


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Host plants / species affected

Main hosts

show all species affected
Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine)

List of symptoms / signs

Stems - discoloration of bark
Stems - discoloration of bark
Stems - external feeding
Stems - external feeding
Stems - internal feeding
Stems - internal feeding


P. piniphilus attacks Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) trees from pole to logging age. The adults feed and oviposit on pine stems where the bark is thin. The larger branches may also be used for breeding and the twigs may be used for maturation feeding. After the eggs have been laid the trees look as if they have been sprayed with white-wash, owing to the resin, which oozes from the holes in the bark bored by the females.

Principally the larvae mine in the inner bark. They pupate in the wood just under the bark in an oval pupal chamber, which is lined with shreds of wood fibre. These oval pupal cells remain embedded in the wood long after the beetles emerge, and are characteristic of Pissodes spp. damage.

Prevention and control

See Führer and Kerck (1978a, b) for a discussion of forest-protection problems in wind-damaged pine pole forests in Lüneburg Heath, Germany. Insect attack was assessed in 1973-1975 in standing trees in Pinus sylvestris stands, some damaged by windthrow in 1972, and some adjacent to damaged stands. In the summer of 1974, 30% of trees sampled within the windthrown areas contained larvae of a Pissodes species (probably P. piniphilus). Trees in stands adjacent to the windthrown areas were only slightly affected by bark-breeding insects. In uncleared windthrown areas, the frequency of Pissodes attack was similar for apparently healthy and for partially-uprooted trees. In areas that had been cleared before spring 1974, more healthy trees were attacked by Pissodes than in uncleared stands. It was recommended that if clearing of windthrown pine pole stands cannot be done before beetle emergence in the first summer after windthrow, then the stands should be left uncleared until the following May, to allow uprooted stems to act as trap trees.

To reduce losses caused by secondary bark-breeding insects, including P. piniphilus, sanitary felling restricted to infested and dead trees is recommended (e.g. Kohh, 1938, 1939; Kozak, 1978). P. piniphilus should be controlled by the removal of freshly colonized trees.

In addition, natural stands and plantations of P. sylvestris damaged by Heterobasidion annosum should be monitored, and weakened trees promptly removed to prevent outbreaks of P. piniphilus and other xylophagous insect pests (Bogdanova, 1998).


P. piniphilus is considered to be among the most injurious insect pests in pine forests of some regions of eastern, northern and central Europe, particularly in the Baltic states, Finland and Russia (Kohh, 1939; Saalas, 1949; Maavara et al., 1961; Bogdanova, 1985; Ozols, 1985; Demakov, 1994, 1998; Voolma, 2000). The middle-aged stands of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), growing on dry sandy soils, are mostly affected. P. piniphilus first attacks trees that have been previously damaged by defoliating insects, root-rot or other diseases, or by abiotic factors. Subsequently the trees will be colonised by Tomicus piniperda, Tomicus minor and other bark and wood-boring insects that kill the tree.

Kohh (1939) and Riis (1975) provided a review of Estonian literature on the damage caused by P. piniphilus. A brief overview of the damage caused by the pine-top weevil in pine forests of Estonia is also given by Voolma and Luik (2001). In southern Estonia, an outbreak of P. piniphilus was reported at the end of the nineteenth century when more than 370 ha of pole-stage pine stands were destroyed and cut down (Knersch, 1901). In the 1930s, a large-scale outbreak occurred in south-east Estonia, where 3453 ha of damaged pine stands (average of 60 years old) were registered in 1937-1938 (Kohh, 1939). Some damage also occurred in northern Estonia. Altogether, more than 55,000 m² of timber was cut in the damaged areas (Kohh, 1939). In 1971-1972, a small outbreak (43 ha) of P. piniphilus occurred almost in the same region of southern Estonia (Riis, 1975). At the beginning of the 1990s, P. piniphilus widely infested pine stands in southern Estonia again (Luik, 1993, 1994; Pilt, 1994). In particular, an outbreak of P. piniphilus occurred in pine stands infested by root-rot diseases, caused by Heterobasidion annosum and Armillaria spp. According to data from the Estonian Centre of Forest Protection and Silviculture, 209-699 ha of damaged pine stands were registered annually in 1992-2000 (Asi et al., 2002).

Demakov (1996) described an outbreak of P. piniphilus in the Marii-El Republic, Russia, in 1981-1991, which covered 300,000-350,000 ha. The most severe damage was observed in dry boreal pine forests (Vaccinum vitis-idea and Vaccinum myrtillus-site types), where 57% of trees in middle-aged stands and 30% of trees in pre-mature stands died (Demakov, 1996). During the outbreak, P. piniphilus attacked 15- to 200-year-old pine trees. At the same time, a high population level of P. piniphilus was observed in other regions of central Russia (Moscow and Tver provinces) (Demakov, 1996).

P. piniphilus is also one of the commonest curculionids in artificial Scots pine plantations of Western Siberia, where most of the damage is caused by the weevils during both maturation and renewal feeding in the crowns of growing pines (Bogdanova, 1985).

P. piniphilus is considered to be a vector of Endocronartium pini, the fungus that causes resin-top disease of pines (Pappinen and von Weissenberg, 1994a, b, 1996; Pappinen, 1996). A possible role of P. piniphilus in the dispersal of the blister-rust fungus (Peridermium sp.) attacking P. sylvestris was suggested by Kangas (1938) and Rennerfelt (1943). Several species of insects were found in sections of infected stems, including P. piniphilus, Pissodes pini, and the Lepidoptera Dioryctria splendidella and Laspeyresia coniferana, but it is not known whether any of these plays a part in natural infection. Under laboratory conditions, the ability of P. piniphilus to carry E. pini spores and its ability to infect P. sylvestris in the field, were investigated in Finland. It was concluded that the weevil may carry spores and cause infection in healthy trees (Pappinen and von Weissenberg, 1994b).