Southern Pine Beetle
What is the Southern Pine Beetle (SPB)?
The Southern Pine Beetle (dendroctonus frontalis) is a native insect in New Jersey and was reported as causing damage in southern New Jersey as far back as December 2001. SPB is often present in endemic (low) levels, successfully attacking weakened and stressed pine trees. However, there are also times when SPB populations reach epidemic (high) levels and they are able to successfully attack healthy pine trees. When SPB populations reach epidemic levels, they have the ability to cause significant damage across its range. It is one of the only native bark beetles that can attack healthy trees, where the adult beetles cut off water and nutrient supplies to trees by boring through the bark and creating S-shaped galleries in which they lay their eggs. Ocean County is highly susceptible to the SPB.
Prevent SPB Outbreaks….Control/Treatment
You can reduce the risk of SPB outbreaks by actively managing your trees. Trees under stress become susceptible to SPB while healthy, strong trees resist beetle attacks. Spacing of your trees to 20 feet apart or greater is ideal. This spacing not only promotes healthy growth and form of the trees, but the increased space also interrupts pheromone communication between the beetles.
To protect your trees, we recommend a spray or injection treatment. Treatments are only effective if applied prior to an SPB attack. To control and minimize the spread, we must detect and suppress infestations while the beetles still actively infest the tree. If untreated, beetles move quickly to adjacent trees. Once a tree has been infested, there are no treatment options; the tree must be removed immediately to avoid further spreading.
SPB spread is the most effective method at prohibiting widespread SPB induced tree mortality.
Some prevention actions include:
· Continual monitoring and surveying of SPB activity and
suppressing SPB spots while small to prevent larger SPB outbreaks.
· Removing weakened and stressed trees that serve as the initial breeding sites for SPB can also prevent SPB populations from establishing.
· Maintaining healthy pine stands that are better able to defend themselves from SPB attack.
· Encouraging or planting appropriate pine species for the site, so growing the “right tree in the right spot”.
All hard pine trees are susceptible to an infestation of the SPB, including pitch pine, red pine, and jack pine. In addition, SPB has been known to infest white pine, and other conifers when an infestation is very active and when the SPB population is extremely large. No hardwood tree species are affected.
Signs of Infestation
Pitch tubes, exit holes, yellow and browning crowns, S-shaped galleries under bark.
I wish I could tell you that there is a simple solution to eradicating a southern pine beetle infestation, but as of now, there is no known effective treatment for these pests. Spaying with pesticides has very little effect since the beetles reside in the inner bark. Instead, forestry experts have focused more of their efforts on prevention and stopping the spread of the southern pine beetle.
**Please report signs of the Southern Pine Beetle to JBS Tree Experts at (732) 966-2273. This will allow us to keep the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection updated on this vastly spreading beetle.