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Don’t Let Pine Beetles Destroy Your Pine Trees

Your home is your sanctuary. You’ve lovingly designed and planted your yard and landscape to create a serene, beautiful place to unwind, entertain friends and to play with your kids.

In addition to becoming your favorite spot to “chill,” the trees and plants you use in your landscape can add value to your real estate and improve the environment.

 Western Pine Beetle

But there’s a threat to your trees that you need to be aware of – the Western pine beetle. More than 800,000 acres of pine trees and other conifers are dead or dying from pine bark beetle, as well as drought-related causes, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Tree deaths are not unusual during sustained periods of drought, but experts say this current die-off has the potential to be even worse. The beetle population is normally kept in check by cold temperatures during winter months. But California’s mild winters over the last three years – including above-average temperatures and a significant lack of snowfall – gives the pine bark beetle free rein to destroy trees.

Nineteen different types of pines are found across California, including Monterey, sugar, ponderosa and lodgepole pine. Of the 600 species of bark beetle across the country, about 200 of them feed on California pines, including the Western pine beetle, the pine engraver and the red turpentine beetle. California now has 20 invasive species of bark beetles.

How Do Pine Beetles Damage Trees?

Beetles attack stressed trees, which have trouble producing enough pitch, or sap, to drive away the insects. The beetles then release pheromones that attract other beetles, which quickly overwhelm the tree’s defenses.

Borer beetles are most successful when they attack a tree that is stressed. Lack of water is one of the primary factors that cause stress. When a borer beetle attacks a vigorously growing conifer (like pine), the tree can physically pitch the borer out of the trunk in a flow of sap.

Ned Patchett Consulting shares the following six signs that a pine tree is likely infested with pine bark beetles:

  1. Trees release pitch as a natural defense against a bark beetle attack. This leaves a small white, or reddish-brown sap-like substance on the outside of the bark.
  2. Red or light brown sawdust-like frass appears on the main trunk and lower root crown.
  3. Small holes from the beetles emerge on the lower trunk.
  4. Bark flaking or holes will appear in the bark. This is caused by woodpeckers foraging for beetles.
  5. Some trees may slowly fade in color from green to brown. Some trees may die within a few weeks of infestation. By the time the tree appears to be dead, it cannot be saved.
  6. If detected early, chemical treatment can save the tree by targeting adult beetles.

Helping Trees Protect Themselves

Homeowners can take steps to prevent or minimize damage from pine bark beetles.

  1. Reduce stress and encourage vigorous tree growth by providing your trees with appropriate supplemental irrigation during the hot, growing season. Susceptibility to pine bark beetle attack increases when trees are drought-stressed.
  2. Delay pruning your trees until the winter months when beetle activity has declined.
  3. Remove declining trees as quickly as possible as they are ideal for the start of a beetle infestation.
  4. Remove infested trees that can’t be saved as quickly as possible to minimize the spread of the beetle.
  5. Thin a crowded group of trees by removing undesirable trees. This will increase the vigor of the remaining trees.
  6. Minimize construction impacts, compaction and damage to tree trucks from mowers, trimmers, etc.

As an important component of your landscape, tree care should not be taken lightly. Our professional arborists at Ned Patchett Consulting are trained to care for trees of all shapes and sizes, and during all stages of life.

Are you looking for an innovative tree service and landscape design and maintenance company that will uniquely and passionately create and care for your trees and yard like they were their own?

Let the experienced professionals at Ned Patchett Consulting deliver for you. Connect with us at info@nedpatchettconsulting.com or 650-728-8308

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