The North Carolina Forest Service Forest Health Handbook describes some of the most important and/or common forest insects and diseases that damage trees in North Carolina. The main purpose of this manual is to provide basic information on threats to forest health, guidance in diagnosing tree disorders, and pest management recommendations. It is not intended as a final reference when dealing with any of the pests described. Rather, it should serve as a training aid and introductory text for those unfamiliar with the forest entomology and pathology fields, and as a quick reference guide for specific insect and diseases problems. The information provided is specific to North Carolina.

The 3rd Edition of the Forest Health Handbook provides much of the same information as its predecessors. Insects and diseases are divided into sections based on the type of damage caused. For each specific stress agent, a brief overview is provided followed by information on the causal agent, hosts, symptoms and signs, life cycle or disease cycle, importance, management recommendations, seasonal timelines, and distribution information. This edition also features color photographs to supplement descriptions of symptoms/signs, to assist with diagnoses in the field, and to illustrate concepts or examples. Introductory material on forest protection, forest health, pathology, and entomology are provided to introduce readers to the terms and concepts used in these forestry sub-disciplines. Finally, a set of appendices is provided at the end of the manual with additional information on tree physiology and anatomy, non-native invasive organisms, diagnosing tree disorders, sample collection and submission guidelines, plant disease/insect management, additional resources and references, and Forest Health Branch contact information.

Time-sensitive information was excluded from this handbook (when possible) to prolong its relevance and usefulness. Therefore, information on the distribution of non-native invasives, laws and regulations, and pesticide use information may be found lacking or over-generalized in this manual. Readers are encouraged to consult the list of additional resources at the end of the handbook for current, time-sensitive information on these topics. An effort was made to utilize (to the greatest extent possible) images from, an online source for forest health, natural resources, and silviculture-related images. This was done so that the reader can access original, high-quality images from the manual online for the purposes of study or diagnosis. Commercial use of these images has not been authorized. Image citations are provided at the end of the handbook; images from Forestry Images are available at:


The Complete Handbook [PDF, 26.2 MB]

  1. Cover, Acknowlegement, Table of Contents, and Preface
  2. Introduction
  3. Chapter 1: Forest Entomology
  4. Chapter 2: Forest Pathology
  5. Chapter 3: Disorders and Abiotic Stress Agents


  1. Diagnosing Disorders of Trees
  2. Pest Management
  3. Non-Native Invasive Species
  4. Diagnostic and Laboratory Services
  5. Sample Collection Guidelines
  6. Photographing Tree Disorders
  7. Diagnostic Tools of the Trade
  8. Additional Resources and Selected References
  9. Image Citations
  10. Glossary
  11. Forest Health Branch Contact Information


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Published in September 2011

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