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How to Get Rid of Pine Beetles

Pine Beetle is a small beetle of reddish to brown color that is around ¼ to ½ inches long. They reside in trees and are able to fly as well. You can find them at various altitudes all over the world. While they prefer to reside in live trees, if the need arises, they also feed on freshly cut stumps as well.

Pine beetles constitute of the most destructive class of pests that specifically targets pine trees and destroys them. They reproduce, migrate, as well as eat, at a fast rate. Once they are active on any single tree in a line, it is preferable to take actions quickly in order to minimize the chances of casualties. There are a few other species that also feed on a number of different hardwood trees. However, most of them are rather slow at reproducing as well as at causing damage.

Moreover, softwoods such as pine trees get damaged more easily and are faster at providing harborage to a greater number of insects as compared to the hard woods, assuming both are given equal periods of time.

How Pine Beetles Affect Pine Trees

Pine beetles find their way to pine trees via smelling the sap of these trees. While all of the trees exude a small amount of sap anyway, a plant that is injured either by human activity or because of natural course is more likely to attract pine beetles and encourage their activity.

These damages and injuries include mechanical damage because of cutting of the protective bark by the construction crews, pruning during inappropriate seasons such as summers, damage by drought, lightning, and any disease or damage by insects such that can result from termites. This kind of damage can make a tree much more susceptible to pine bark beetle. This is because when the plant’s bark is injured, they release huge quantity of sap that attracts a lot of beetles, thus increasing the damage.

Killing Pine Trees

While a healthy pine tree will not be emitting sap that would attract pine beetles, an injured one would. When any tree sustains an injury, sap runs out of the bark freely and the odds of the beetles finding that tree increases manifold.

Once the beetles find the tree, they penetrate its bark and start excavating tunnels in between the wood and bark of the tree. These tunnels act as an excellent source of egg cavities for the beetles. When these eggs are laid in these cavities, the larvae hatch out of them and begin feeding on the living portion of the tree that is called xylem and phloem. This feeding then sends them on a path that leads to the weakening of the trees, especially damaging its bark to the point that the tree ends up falling.

Severely damaged trees often shed their bark and appear to be naked. The tunnels are often visible beneath the damaged bark, leaving little doubt about the reason behind the damage.

Pine Bark Damage

Once the larvae are full, they undergo metamorphosis, which results in their turning into adults. This third stage of these beetles is termed as the pupa. When they are ready, they hatch and then emerge from the trees. This emergence of these beetles creates new holes in the pine bark, allowing even more sap to emit. This sap along with their natural pheromones, attracts hordes of more beetles. This is why it is wise to treat any tree even if it shows just a hint of activity.

Mostly, trees have the capacity to fight off a single beetle or even two. However, if left alone, the activity is liable to increase and the initial activity could turn into the multiplication of the beetles to hundreds as the newcomers are then attracted to the holes left by the previous batch.

This is the point where the survival of the tree becomes almost impossible. When working to treat the damage, it should be considered that the most dangerous of the beetles are the adult ones since they are looking for new trees to lay eggs. They have a very fast reproductive rate and even though they specifically target the trees that show the most activity, it does not take much time before an infestation begins.


When is it time to treat the pine bark beetles  

In most cases, spraying the pine trees one time during a year is fine for their effective protection. This is especially wise if you are a resident of an area that is known to have shown previous activity. However, once the beetles have landed on your trees and infested them, the situation turns from preventive to saving.

What is extremely unfortunate, however, is that it is highly unlikely to save trees once they have been infested to the point of extensive activity. It is not that we are advising you to not try, but it is recommended to have the beetles destroying just one tree instead of the whole bunch being destroyed at the hands of these pests. Always remember that if left unprotected, the other trees will quickly be targeted by these beetles.

The question is how to prevent your trees from pine beetles. While spraying once a year is advisable, you need to take extra care and even cut down the trees that show a lot of activity.   You can spray the trees with a couple of products, such as Carbaryl, Permethrin SFR to prevent any infestations. Remove any trees that have been infested to prevent any spreading to other trees.


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