These shoot moths kill the tips of the branches - terminal and laterals. The needle usually dies and turns brown during the summer. Severe infestation may give the infected tree a reddish appearance. Severe infestation on small trees may cause their death. This insect is more of a problem in Christmas tree farms and in commercial tree nurseries then in the home landscape. Drought and poor growing conditions seem to increase damage by this shoot moth.
These are NOT common insects in the home landscape. However, if you are a nurserymen and Christmas tree grower, you should scout for these moths on a regular basis. These moths attack red, mugo, Scots, Austrian, ponderosa and a several other pines. There is one generation per growing season. Eggs are laid at the base of new needles in late spring. After hatching, the insect mines the base of the needle. The insect tunnels into the shoot from the base of a needle. By the middle of summer, the insect has moved into the new buds. By late summer the insect stops feeding. European pine shoot moth tends to over-winter in the injured tissue.
The Nantucket pine tip moth attacks all pines with two or three needles per bundle except for two of these pines not normally grown in the Midwest. This insect usually has several generations per growing season otherwise the life cycles are similar.