Swollen, stunted, or deformed bud tips (new growth) occurring in the spring, and browning as the season progresses.
The Eastern Spruce Gall Aphid winters over as an adult near the tips of branches where new growth will occur. In spring the adults lay eggs at the base of newly forming growth. Hatching within a few days, the larvae suck nutrients from the tender young needles causing the new growth to deform or swell. This gall surrounds the aphid larvae, and protects them as they mature. They continue to feed all summer from inside the gall by sucking nutrients from the tree. The galls turn brown and crack open late in the summer, releasing adults to winter over and produce the next generation.
Remove as many galls as possible by pruning. Be sure to remove pruned galls from the yard. Spray tree thoroughly with Bonide Eight or Bayer Tree & Shrub Spray early in spring just before new growth occurs. Spray again in mid to late September when the galls turn brown and begin to split open. Application of dormant oil in late fall will smother the adults that winter over on the tree and reduce the severity of the spring hatching.