The southern pine beetle, a destructive pest that can infest all species of pine trees, poses a major threat to Florida’s lucrative pine tree industry.
What’s going on?
The southern pine beetle, an insect native to Florida and much of the U.S., grows in the inner bark of stressed and dying pine trees. Populations of the southern pine beetle can grow rapidly and trigger an outbreak in the right environment. Outbreaks can cause widespread tree mortality, which can negatively affect nutrient cycling and forest composition. Additionally, outbreaks directly affect the food available for bark foraging woodpeckers and other birds.
Why it matters?
The southern pine beetle is one of the most destructive insect pests of pines. In 2001, southern pine beetle outbreaks damaged 17,599 acres of Florida pine forest, causing an estimated $38 million in damages. With timber being a $16 billion dollar industry and there being 2.36 million acres of pine tree forests in Florida, outbreaks can cause devastating effects on the economy and environment.
How to identify?
- Look for eggs that are 1.5 x 1.0 mm oval and pearly white.
- Pitch tubes are spread out along the main stem of the tree.
- Attacks are distinctive in their zig-zag to “s” shape.
What you can do?
- Avoid disturbances or activities that damage or harm pines.
- Remove and replace declining trees.
- Rapidly salvage trees seriously damaged by disease, fire and storms.