One of the most destructive insect enemies of pine in the south and southeast.
These 1/8'' to 1/4'' long, reddish-brown beetles can kill large trees rapidly. Larvae tunnel beneath the bark, forming a network of S-shaped galleries that sever vascular tissues and girdle the tree. Another vascular disruption is created by the growth of blue stain fungi that are carried by the beetles. The beetle damage and blue stain fungus can result in rapid death of the tree. In most areas, there are four or five beetle generations a year.
Which species of pine are at risk?
Loblolly, shortleaf and Virginia pines are preferred host trees from southern pine beetles, but when populations of the beetles are widespread, any pine tree may be attacked. Pines that are stressed or weakened by natural factors such as drought or lightning strikes are highly vulnerable.
What are the signs of southern pine beetle?
The tree canopy changes from green to dull green, then to yellow and shortly to reddish-brown. Reddish-brown dust and white tubes form on the trees trunk. Because other beetle species also produce tubes, proper identification of the southern pine beetle is necessary.
Maintenance and Treatment
To reduce chance of attack from this deadly insect, your trees should be fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer such as Arbor Green PRO®. Watering during dry periods is also essential. Pines that are kept vigorous and healthy with proper plant health care are able to repel attacks from southern pine beetles.
Infested trees should be cut and removed as soon as possible to prevent the spread of this infestation. Other pines on the property should be treated two to three times a year with products that will minimize beetle attack.