Thanks so much for all the tree advice, people! I really appreciated it!
It appears that we have an infestation of a pine weevil in our poor spruce tree. Here's a picture from Colorado State University Extension of the little critter:
This is what Meghan Gross, Horticulture/Natural Resources Extension Agent, has to say about our problem insect:
White pine weevil (Pissodes strobi) is a seldom seen insect that looks like a small, black beetle with a disproportionately long snout. In the early spring, just after the snow melts and temperatures begin to rise, the adult female weevil awakens from her dormant state. She hikes it up the trunk of a spruce and lays eggs at the base of the leader (the uppermost branch of the tree responsible for upward growth). The eggs hatch into larvae (1/4 inch piece of white rice with a brown head) and the larvae bore into the leader and feed.Ah. I really wish that this particular Pissodes strobi would NOT have visited us. But John was excited when he read Ms. Gross's advice on eradicating the thing:
If your spruce is showing symptoms of white pine weevil, remove the infected/dead leader and train your next best lateral to take over the leader (upright) position. You can do this with a wooden stake and some string. Destroy or rid infested leaders, as weevils can survive in them."I can use my chainsaw on a stick!" he exclaimed, and rushed out to the garage to fire it up.
Yes. He actually has one. You can read all about it here.
I don't know which I should be more concerned about: The weevil? Or John wielding a tool OVER HIS HEAD that has multiple sharp moving blades?
I can't look. Tell me when it's all over........