keywords: forest entomology, forest pathology, defoliators, skeletonize or mine, sapsucking, boring, vectors, fall makers, biological control, chemicals, sanitation, mechanical procedures, regulatory controls, quarantines, containment, silvicultural controls, integrated pest management, biotic disease, abiotic disease; Lesson Plan Grade Level: 5-8; Total Time Required: 5 days; Setting: the lesson will require three days in the classroom and two days in the computer room

Subjects covered: The lesson will include environmental science, art and written language

Topic covered: The lesson will cover the important insects and disease pests of Pennsylvania's forests.

Goals for the lesson

Students will be made aware of the insects and diseases that affect our forests. They will also learn what measures can be taken to prevent or slow down the infestations.

Materials needed

The class will need to have access to a computer lab, colored printers, poster board and markers of some kind

State Standards addressed:
A. 4.2 Renewable and nonrenewable resources (management)
B. 4.3 Environmental health (human actions)
C. 4.5 Integrated pest management (management practices)
D. 4.8 Humans and the environment (human impact)


Begin by asking students to share their understanding of what role insects and disease play in our state forests.

Explain to the class that hundreds of insect live and feed in our forests without harming the trees that they live among. Ask the class to come up with a number of beneficial insects.

Then explain that most insect have a short lifecycle and only a small percentage of them reach adulthood. However, if a large number of offspring reach adulthood we have an outbreak and they cause problems with the balance of nature.

Next put the names of the following insects/diseases on a small piece of paper and let the students draw them from a box.
1. Beech bark/beech scale complex
2. Eastern tent caterpillar
3. Fall cankerworm
4. Hemlock woolly adelgid
5. Leafrollers
6. Twolined chestnut borer
7. Scale insects
8. White pine weevil
9. Spruce gall adelgid
10. Maple anthracnose
11. Leaf galls
12. Gypsy moth
13. Fall webworm
14. Black knot or cherry
15. Elm spanworm
16. Armillaria root disease

The following day the class will go to the computer lab and look up their insect on the internet. They will need to find a picture of the insect or disease, its favorite tree or host, three interesting facts about it and how we can control outbreaks of the insect.

The following two days the students will need to construct an 18 x 24 inch poster that include the above listed information.

On the final day of the project each student will be given five minutes to briefly present what they have learned about the insect/disease that they have been working on during the week.

When the assignment has been completed they can be hung up for display for open house, arts and academics night or parent teachers' conference.


The students will be evaluated through the use of a rubric which they will have access to before the project begins.

  • 10 points for finding a picture of the insect/disease
  • 10 points for finding three interesting facts
  • 10 points for finding the favorite tree of the insect/disease
  • 10 points for finding ways to control the insect/ disease
  • 10 points for neatness on the poster
  • 25 points for accuracy of the information
  • 25 points for the presentation

Literature/sources cited

A 4-H publication entitled Advancing in Forestry was used to define many of the keywords used in the lesson and DCNR publication was consulted to find the list of diseases and pests.


Bob Braymer, PENNCREST School District


Forest entomology- study of forest insects
B. Forest pathology - study of tree diseases and mortality
C. Defoliators - eat a trees leaves or needles
D. Skeletonize/mine- dig between the upper and lower leaf's surface eating all but the upper surface
E. Sapsucking - when insects draw sap and plant juices from trees using their hollow, straw like mouth parts. They feed on needles, leaves, shoots or stems.
F. Boring -when insects feed on the cambium, inner bark, terminal ends and twigs
G. Vectors - insects that carry a disease
H. Gall makers - affect tree growth by stimulating a tree to grow abnormally
I. Biological control - reduce populations of insects by introducing predators, competitors or disease
J. Chemicals - pesticides used for control
K. Sanitation - harvesting insect infested trees
L. Mechanical procedures - control insects by cutting down, chipping, peeling, or burning infested trees
M. Regulatory controls - laws that prohibit the transport of insect pests
N. Quarantines - prohibit the movement of infested material into an area
O. Containment - prevent the movement of insects or infested material out of an area
P. Silvicultural controls - uses stand management practices that create favorable growing conditions for the trees
Q. Integrated Pest Management - The use of a variety of measures to control pests and disease
R. Biotic disease - caused by living organisms
S. Abiotic disease - caused by something that is not alive