Bark Beetles are just one of the many wood-destroying insects found around Bryan, Texas. The Southern Pine Beetle is usually the most destructive. There are five bark beetles found in Eastern Texas, and all five kill Pine trees and sometimes take on hardwood trees. The more significant concerns are for forest health, especially since drought conditions persist.
Bark Beetles and Landscaping
We see many examples of dead pine trees in landscaping. Pine trees, for the most part, are somewhat drought tolerant, but drought tolerant can make a pine tree an easy target for bark beetles. The Good news is that the death of pine trees can be prevented. What that means for homeowners is developing a better water management regime for pines and hardwoods.
The Relationship between Water and Bark Beetles
The relationship between pine beetles and the pines is millions of years old, and the trees are capable of defending themselves against attack from bark beetles. At its simplest, this is a power struggle – the bark beetles vs. the Tree. The key is water. Pine trees must have enough water to produce enough resin. Resin is similar to pitch, and the Tree uses it to push the bark beetles out of its trunk.
The situation unfolds like this. The beetle drills into the bark of the Tree and the Tree detects that action. As the beetle enters the trunk area beneath the Tree, the Tree then forces resin to that area, and the resin pushes the beetle out of the Tree. If the Tree is successful, the bark beetle releases a pheromone signaling its fellow beetles that the Tree is healthy. If the Tree is not successful, the beetle releases a pheromone that attracts more beetles; they overcome the Tree’s natural defenses.
Drought Conditions and Saving Pines
A tree in drought conditions is susceptible to bark beetle attacks because it may not have enough water to produce enough resin. Resin is the Tree’s only defense. In a forest situation, the beetles remove the weaker trees, and the forest remains strong. If you look at a forest where bark beetles exist, you can spot a dead tree here and there. They rarely kill an entire forest, but they could. For the homeowner, the key is to water pines and hardwoods when drought conditions occur.
If the needles on the pine tree are red, the Tree is beyond saving. The practical thing to do is to remove the Tree from the landscape as they are both a fire danger and hazard.
In the case of Bark Beetles, prevention is critical. We can treat pines with pesticides, which may kill the beetles. In some trees, the beetle is not what kills the Tree, rather a fungal pathogen that the beetles carry. The fungus blocks the water pathways, and the Tree is unable to send water to the top of its canopy.
For more information on controlling landscape pests, give us a call. We provide comprehensive and affordable pest control services throughout the Bryan and College Station communities.