Needles branches and twigs turn brown in color. There are two different signs of needle blight. One sign is that the upper branches of the tree will be dead from the tips back. Another sign is that the bottom two-thirds of the tree dies. The needles will often drop in the late summer season starting at the tips, leaving the infected branches bare. In some cases you will see small black dots (spores) on the dead stems and needles. During the wet seasons the spores germinate on the branches and spread throughout the tree to the needles killing them. Several different types of fungi cause needle blight on plants in the cypress tree family. Some fungi can survive the winter months on the dead needles, Re-infection will continue until the tree is completely dead.