WICKERSHAM FORESTRY SERVICES, INC.

SOUTHERN PINE BEETLE INSPECTIONS

Adult Black Turpentine Beetle

Adult Southern Pine Beetle

CREDIT FOR THE PICTURES ON THIS SUBJECT GOES TO  INSECTS AND DISEASES OF TREES IN THE SOUTH BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE -- FOREST SERVICE STATE AND PRIVATE FORESTRY -- SOUTHEASTERN AREA FOREST PEST MANAGEMENT GROUP.

The Adult Black Turpentine Beetle is only about 1/4 inch long thus giving you an idea as to the Southern Pine Beetle's size!!

The main reason the SPB does so much more damage than the other bark beetles is because of the shape and direction of it's feeding canals.  All of these pests actually eat the growth layer, or cambium, that lies between the bark and the wood of the tree.  They feed on this thin layer of cells just under the bark and girdle the tree cutting off the water supply to the crown thus killing the tree.  The SPB eats in "S" shaped canals and generally goes around the circumference of the tree.  The Ips eats in an "H" shaped or "J" shaped canal which is more up and down the tree than it is around the tree; therefore, it takes more of these beetles to girdle the tree than it does with the SPB.  The Black Turpentine Beetle eats in a patch shaped area and it generally only eats in the lower 6 to 8 feet of the bole of the tree.  An attack by the Black Turpentine Beetle seldom kills the tree and it very seldom attacks a tree unless the tree has suffered some sort of mechanical damage.

The biggest insect threat to the southern pine timberland owner is the insect known as the Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis).  The pine tree has many enemies;however, none is quite as devastating as the Southern Pine Beetle (SPB).  There are actually three main pine bark beetles that attack southern pine.  The SPB, the Ips Engraver Beetle (Ips spp.) and the Black Turpentine Beetle (Dendroctonus terebrans).  The Ips Engraver beetle comes in three sizes.  One is smaller then the SPB, one is the same size and the other is slightly larger.  They are very similar in appearance to the SPB.  The only obvious difference is that the Ips Beetle has a "scooped out" posterior while the SPB does not.

SOUTHERN PINE BEETLE PITCH TUBES.
SOUTHERN PINE BEETLE LARVAL GALLERIES.

If you think you have a problem with one of these pests, just give us a call and we can check the spots to see which beetle you have and let you know what you are up against.

When you see your trees dying in patches of three to five, you probably have Ips damage.  When you see only one or two trees die in an area where the trees have been subjected to some sort of mechanical damage, it will usually the the Black Turpentine Beetle.  However, you can never really be sure unless you peel the bark of a dead or dying tree and inspect the shape and direction of the feeding canals under the bark.

If you think you have a problem with Southern Pine Beetles, you need a professional to inspect the spots in your stand and tell you what your problem is and what caused the problem.  If you see needles on one or more of your pine trees turning a bright reddish brown, you probably have one of these pests in your timber stand.  In most cases the tree will try to flood the insects out of their bore holes by exuding resin that will protrude from the bark and dry into a white to pinkish glob we call a "pitch tube".  It will look a lot like kernels of popcorn on the bark and these pitch tubes usually occur first just under the live crown of the tree.

Treatment varies with the area affected and the actual beetle causing the damage.  With the Ips and the Black Turpentine Beetles you have time to watch and decide what to do.  With the Southern Pine Beetle, you must act quickly in order to remove the threat from you stand.  The best way to treat your bug spot is by cutting the affected trees and removing them completely from your pine stand.  You do this by cutting the trees that are being attacked now moving back into the trees that have already died.  The idea here is to remove the "brood trees" from your stand before the young are ready to emerge and join the attack.  The adults will produce a new brood every 18 to 25 days so you have very little time to react to this threat before you lose a considerable amount of timber  to these pests.  I have seen 40 acres eaten completely in only four days during an exceptional attack.

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