Cone & Seed Pest Research

Genetically improved forestry material is delivered to British Columbia’s forests via seed orchards. These orchards are grown similarly to fruit orchards, except cones are harvested instead of fruit.

Just like other orchards, seed orchards are subject to the depredations of insects and diseases. Losses can be very costly. In 2004, the Douglas-fir coneworm (Dioryctria abietivorella) caused seed losses in interior spruce of more than $600,000.

Fir coneworm larva tunnelling through a spruce cone

Above: Fir coneworm (Dioryctria abietivorella) larva
tunnelling through a spruce cone, eating seeds as it goes.

With the guidance of a technical advisory committee from the Forest Genetics Council, the B.C. government is gathering knowledge of pest species and developing management techniques to reduce yield losses in seed orchards.

The provincial cone and seed pest research program works with, and applies results to, both public and private seed orchards. This helps protect B.C.’s seed orchard investment, thereby enhancing reforestation investments and long-term volume gains.

Research Highlights

Research Topic



Pesticide trials

Conducted studies over multiple years leading to the registration of three new pesticides for seed orchard pest management.

  • Agriculture Canada
  • Canadian Forest Service
  • CropHealth Inc.

Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)

Discovered infrared host-finding, acoustic communication and visible light vision acuity.

  • Simon Fraser University

Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)

Used Mark-Release-Recapture to discover that seed bugs have strong clonal preferences, and determined their dispersal and dispersion patterns.

  • University of Northern B.C.

Cooley spruce gall adelgid (Adelges cooleyi)

Determined damage and dispersal of this species, identified 10 other species that infest seed orchards and discovered the mechanism of gall formation.

  • University of BC – Vancouver

Douglas-fir coneworm (Dioryctria abietivorella)

Determined the sex pheromone, determined flight phenology and developed effective pheromone trapping protocols.

  • University of California – Riverside
  • Canadian Forest Service

Douglas-fir coneworm (Dioryctria abietivorella)

Deciphered the mating system and short-range dispersal characteristics.

  • University of Alberta

Western conifer seed bug feeding on seeds growing in a cone

 Above: Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)
feeds by inserting its syringe-like mouthparts into a cone
and sucking nutrients from the seeds growing within.