Protecting Trees Against Pine Bark Beetle During Extreme Weather

Extreme weather events and rising summer temperatures across in the U.S. for the past several years has caused widespread plant and tree destruction. This destruction causes populations of pests like pine bark beetle and other conifer bark beetles to explode because they rush in when the trees’ defense systems are stressed and suppressed.

By taking preventative measures before invasive populations move in and trees become heavily damaged, you can make sure conifer trees in your area remain strong against this pest.

What is Pine Bark Beetle?

There are several species of pine bark beetle, including Southern Pine Bark Beetle, Black Turpentine Beetle, Mountain Pine Beetle and Ips Engraver Beetle. These species attack and kill pines during periods of environmental stress across the country.

How do they do it? These beetles bore into the cambium in large groups and disrupt nutrient and water movement, killing the tree. Several of these species also introduce a fungus known as blue stain. This fungus can kill a tree by clogging its vascular systems.

Where is the threat?

Regions of the country that experience severe weather conditions, like storms, wildfires, and drought, are more likely to see pine bark beetle attacks. Weak trees serve as the ideal hosts for pine bark beetles. These conditions make it difficult for the pine to fight off an attack and increase the severity of an outcome.

What are the signs?

Individual trees attacked by pine bark beetle may look faded or have mixed tan and green needles progressing to red. This is followed by tree death over the course of just a few weeks. Cream to red-colored pitch tubes will be present in the lower bole of the tree with entrance and exit holes nearby. As the attack increases and second generations attack the tree, older pitch tubes will turn red. However, keep in mind that during periods of excessive drought, pitch tubes may not be present.

Pitch tube damage on pine tree. Photo credit Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service.
Pitch tube damage on pine tree. Photo credit Erich G. Vallery, USDA Forest Service.

How to prevent Pine Bark Beetle attack

Injections remain the best method for safely and effectively treating and protecting trees, especially in urban and residential settings. Treatment with TREE-äge® R10  provides 2 years of control against pine bark beetle and other insect pests. For added protection against blue stain, inject Propizol® fungicide at the time of treatment. It is best to treat when signs are spotted in your area, before your tree is attacked.

Despite environmental conditions accelerating the spread of pine bark beetle, easy solutions are at hand. Keep monitoring climate conditions and the general health and stress levels of conifer trees in your area, and determine early if your trees need protection.