The entire beachfront is covered with them as never before seen! After research I now have the answer and it is believable, and not believable at the same time. The problem is wearing a squirrel suit; to be more specific, a red squirrel suit! I say not believable because I have only seen one of these critters go up or come down from the tree once in a while and never more than one. BUT there must be more!
I learned that during the winter or early spring, they chew the ends of the branches off and the tips drop to the ground. Not all their chewing is first rate, so some are just dangling until a strong wind or snow causes them to fall. Once the ends are on the ground, the hungry squirrel eats the buds. These are pointed and covered with brown bud scales.
Squirrely hangs on an adjacent branch and gnaws off the twig end, needles and buds included. It falls, and if there are several squirrels, the ground may be blanketed with spruce ends. Well they are sure sneaky because there has to be more than the one I have seen and rarely seen to boot!
This is a relatively common problem when there are spruces and red squirrels in the same place.
The GOOD NEWS!! This will NOT kill the tree. It will cause side branches to grow, and may make the tree appear a little fuller in the coming years. I'll now chalk it up to pruning by a rodent!
I read that here is not much we can do about it as long as the red squirrels are there. We are too populated for the pest control method that first comes to mind.
|Click on image to view all larger|