Damage, symptoms and biology
The porcupine is the second largest rodent mammal in Canada after the beaver. While this animal feeds mainly on the inner bark of trees, it also feeds on a variety of other plants. In winter, although porcupines will eat the needles and bark of most tree species, they prefer pine and hemlock. When the sap rises in spring, they seek out maples as a source of bark. If the bark around the entire circumference of the stem or trunk gets eaten, the part above the wound will wilt and die. A decrease in leaf surface area, yellowing then browning of the leaves, followed by premature shedding, can be observed. Porcupine-induced wounds are usually located in the upper part of the tree because these animals climb up into trees to escape from predators.
The coat of the American porcupine consists of long hairs and sharp, modified hairs, or quills. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot eject their quills. When a porcupine feels threatened, its hairs and quills stand up, it turns its back to its aggressor and it rolls up into a ball. For more information on porcupines, check out the following site:
Canadian Forest Service Publications
Information on host(s)
Conifer, deciduous, eastern hemlock, maple, pines
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