Southern pine beetle (SPB) is a 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch wood-boring insect that infests pine trees, killing even large trees very quickly. It is one of the most destructive pests in the Southern and Southeastern United States.
Preferred host trees include loblolly, shortleaf, and Virginia pine, although all species of pine are susceptible. Trees that are weak or damaged from drought, lightning, or construction are especially vulnerable.
Southern pine beetles produce four or five generations a year. Their larvae tunnel underneath tree bark, damaging and severing vascular tissues in their wake. Symptoms include changes in canopy color (green to dull green to yellow to reddish-brown); brown-red dust; and whitish pitch (pine sap) tubes.
To reduce the chance of attack, remove infested trees to prevent further spread of the disease. Never use the cut wood as firewood. In addition, keep pines healthy and vigorous by watering, fertilizing, and mulching regularly.