The Western Pine Bark Beetle
What is a Bark Beetle and Why You Should Care.
Bark Beetles are very small in stature at under 1/4 inch, with a hard exterior shell, these tiny bugs somewhat resemble and armadillo. Their tough exterior makes them not only tough but perfect for burrowing into pine trees. The Bark beetle will bore it’s way through your tree’s protective outer layer of bark in order to lay their eggs in the inner bark (moist phloem) of the tree, causing death to the tree if treatment is not applied in time.
The Western Pine Bark Beetle
While there are dozens of species of bark beetles known to exist, in San Diego County the Western Bark Beetle is the culprit killing off pine trees throughout the county. As a native to western North American forests, the Western Beetle mainly attacks Ponderosa and Coulter pines.
How does the Western Pine Bark Beetle Affect Your Trees?
Once an adult Bark Beetle has made it’s way through the outer layer of bark it will begin boring through your tree and creating a tiny little infrastructure inside of your tree as it bores around laying eggs. Those eggs then quickly become Bark Beetle Larvae, which are small, white, legless grubs less than 1/4 inch in length, those larvae, much like adult beetles bore their way through the phloem and turn into the middle bark where they complete their development.
Once these beetle larvae become adults the start to produce and release chemicals called aggregating pheromones that attract other beetles from the area. Eventually, this process of laying eggs, developing, and attracting more beetles to the infected tree will overrun the tree and essentially hollow it out, causing it to become not only unhealthy but also unsafe. These attacks then spill over into nearby trees causing what is known as a “Group Kill” and devastating entire groves of what were once healthy pine trees.
To make matters worse, the Western Bark Beetle has a long lifespan and they develop quickly, starting around late spring and lasting through late October the beetles begin to fly and cause harm to trees, in a single season up to three generations can be born and fully developed.
The USDA has been studying these pests and publishes the Management Guide For Western Pine Beetle which is an informative guide for dealing with these pests.
What Are the Signs That My Tree is Infected?
Early prevention can be the difference between a yard full of healthy trees or you calling around for dead tree removal.
Here are some signs that your tree may be infected by the Pine Bark Beetle:
- Fading Foliage
Trees attached during summer months may begin to fade even before the beetles have emerged. Especially in drought-ridden southern California where trees are already struggling due to limited resources. Trees that are attacked later in the season will have a fungus that develops slowly and you may not see the warning signs until the following spring.
These beautiful and sometimes annoying birds may actually help you spot the warning signs. Woodpeckers will chip away at the infested tree in search of food (beetles) exposing the bright orange inner bark, under the bark the pattern of an egg gallery is distinctive.
What can I do to prevent the Bark Beetle from killing my trees?
There are a few options available for saving your pine trees from a pine beetle infestation. According to a pest control expert at Pest Control Pros there are protective injection treatments for bark beetles, which will help to prevent the growth of the colonies within your tree and help to protect trees that have not been infected.
San Diego Tree Care Advice
It’s no secret that the San Diego climate and drought that has spread throughout California over recent years has taken it’s toll on our native tree species, especially in dense forest areas like Alpine, Jamul, Ramona, and Julian.
There are some simple tree care steps you can take to help your trees stay hydrated:
- Consider using a watering bag around the base of younger trees.
- Keep the areas directly surrounding the roots of your trees free from water theiving weeds.
- Consider adding a layer of mulch around the tree’s roots to help insulate the water and prevent evaporation.
Spotting the warning signs before it’s too late.
The number one tree care tip we can provide for preventing an infestation of your pine trees by the Western Pine Bark Beetle is to monitor their health. Make it a habit to regularly check your trees for signs of bark beetle infestation.
Infested Tree and Dead Tree Removal in San Diego
If you have a tree that you suspect may be infected the first thing that you should do is give us a call at (760) 440-9138, we will happily come out to your house and inspect your trees for these pesky beetles. If we find a tree that cannot be saved the best thing to do is to remove the tree to prevent the spread of infestation throughout surrounding trees causing a mass die off. Estates Tree Service has been in business since 1992 and we always provide free estimates for San Diego Tree Removal Services throughout the entire county! We are BBB A+ Rated and we guarantee your satisfaction.
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