Pine Bark Beetles — If beetles are active on your property, what can you do?

Bark beetle: how to deal with it?

Pine Bark Beetles

G. Keith Douce, Professor of Entomology, The University of Georgia.

Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, The University of Georgia Bulletin 1097, October 1993, 8 pp.

If beetles are active on your property, what can you do?

Look for the signs of recent beetle attack (eg. pitch tubes, boring dust, etc.) on your trees, not just changes in crown color.

Identify the beetles that are causing the problem by removing bark and examining adults and/or gallery patterns present.

Locate and mark all trees that have been attacked and identify all trees with developing brood.

Determine and begin appropriate management action(s) immediately. Current methods for dealing with bark beetle infestations are summarized below. Articles listed in the reference section can provide you with greater detail on management strategies. Contact your county Extension agent, Georgia Forestry Commission office or city arborist for assistance if you need help. Many tree surgeons or pest control companies also have the expertise and equipment to help you in dealing with bark beetle.

Before starting any management tactics, remember:

  • If SPB or one of the Ips beetles have successfully constructed egg and larval galleries in a tree, the tree will die either as a result of the girdling of the tree by larval feeding, or the introduction and subsequent proliferation of blue stain fungi.
  • If BTB are infesting the tree, it may be possible to save it if larval feeding has not completely girdled it and you take prompt action.

Insecticides can be used to protect high-value, healthy trees and/or kill brood within infested trees if used properly. Before or when using insecticides, it is important to:

  1. Correctly identify the beetles causing the damage
  2. Carefully identify trees needing treatment,
  3. Use appropriate chemicals and application methods,
  4. Apply the chemicals in a timely manner,
  5. Cover each tree thoroughly, and
  6. Treat all trees that contain developing brood.

A Preventive Chemical treatment can be used when the cost of the treatment is more than offset by the potential losses that could occur should beetles attack and kill the tree(s). Preventive chemical applications protect trees from beetle attack for periods of several months up to a year if properly applied. This method is frequently used to protect high value trees in landscape, yard plantings and nursery stands when there has been beetle activity nearby. Don’t apply insecticides to trees infested by SPBs or Ips beetles, unless the tree cannot be cut down and removed before the beetle brood emerges. Don’t apply insecticides to trees from which bark beetle broods have already emerged. Spray trees damaged by construction equipment with an approved insecticide as a preventive measure against attack by BTBs, particularly if beetle activity has been high in the surrounding area. Contact your county Extension or Georgia Forestry Commission office for pesticide information.

Developed by the University of Georgia Bugwood Network in cooperation with USDA Forest Service — Forest Health Protection, USDA APHIS PPQ, Georgia Forestry Commission, Texas Forest Service
and the Pests and Diseases Image Library — Australia

Bark beetle: how to deal with it?

Pine Bark Beetles

G. Keith Douce, Professor of Entomology, The University of Georgia.

Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, The University of Georgia Bulletin 1097, October 1993, 8 pp.

Pines in Georgia and across the southeast are subject to attack by at least six species of bark beetles. All pine bark beetles common in Georgia can attack and kill living trees. Bark beetle populations and their subsequent damage varies greatly between years and by location within any given year. Statewide, damage and losses of pines caused by bark beetles can range from less that $100,000 to more than $25 million per year. In addition to phloem damage caused by larval and adult feeding, some bark beetle species carry and introduce a blue stain fungus into a tree that colonizes sapwood and disrupts water flow to the tree crown, hastening tree death. This, coupled with the ability of some beetle species to rapidly spread, infest and kill adjacent trees means that it is extremely important for forest owners and managers to recognize signs of bark beetle attack and to identify the beetle species causing the attack.

With the information contained in this publication the landowner, forest manager or homeowner can: recognize pine bark beetle infestations, identify the bark beetle(s) causing the problem, understand basic biological information about each bark beetle species, learn about techniques that can be employed to deal with bark beetles, and locate other sources of help and information about pine bark beetles.

Developed by the University of Georgia Bugwood Network in cooperation with USDA Forest Service — Forest Health Protection, USDA APHIS PPQ, Georgia Forestry Commission, Texas Forest Service
and the Pests and Diseases Image Library — Australia

Bark beetle: what it looks like, what is dangerous, how to get rid of

Despite the fact that bark beetles do not differ in large sizes, they cause major damage to garden farms, wooden structures and woodlands. In recent years, changes in climatic conditions have led to the mass reproduction of these insect pests. In addition, large-scale deforestation contributes to this without properly clearing plots of fallen trees and stumps that are breeding grounds for parasites. In this regard, every dacha owner should know what the bark beetle is and how to deal with it in the house.

Did you know? Bark beetles attack healthy trees only if there are a lot of them. If the insect population is small, they are settled in old, weak and diseased trees. Coniferous trees, especially pine, are the most popular for bark beetles. However, some species of pest inhabit other breeds, including fruit. In mid-latitude conditions, the six-toothed bark beetle is most common.

Bark beetle: what a pest looks like

Bark beetles form a group of beetles of the same name of the subfamily, the description of which includes only 750 species, of which 140 are common in Europe. Bark beetle got its name due to the fact that most of its varieties conduct their livelihoods under the bark. The largest bark beetles ever found on the European continent reached a length of 8 mm, and the smallest — no more than 1 mm. However, in the tropics there are species up to 1.5 cm. In order to recognize the pest in time and prevent the losses it can cause, it is very important to study how the bark beetle looks. The head of the insect is small, poorly expressed, concave or sharply convex, depending on the sex: males have a flat forehead, females — convex. On the front back the teeth are arranged in irregular rows, forming a group of noticeable tubercles. The shape of the back is almost spherical, quadrangular, elongated.

On beetle elytra are strips or scales that thickly cover their surface. The adults are dark brown, the head is darker, almost black. The larva of the bark beetle is legless, yellowish-white, similar to a small worm.

Did you know? Although the bark beetle is a dangerous pest of tree species, there is also some benefit that the insect brings. Bark beetles recycle cellulose, which is why they are considered «forest nurses».

Most often in the household and in the garden you can find pests of three types:

  • Domestic beetle — the largest, reaches a length of 12 — 15 mm. Gray-black color, appears in the summer, leaves a noticeable oval hole in the wood. The life cycle of this species of beetle is the longest — up to 10 years, which makes the fight against this pest rather difficult, since the parasite has time to destroy the tree from the inside long before it is found.
  • Furniture Beetle — up to 3 mm, dark brown. Adult individuals leave the tree in late spring or early summer. In the warm season they can be found on the walls or ceilings. The holes that the parasites eat in the tree have a diameter of up to 1.5 mm, so in order to detect the beetle, you must carefully inspect the floors, furniture, baseboards and rafters. The life cycle of an insect is 2-3 years.
  • Powder beetle — so called because of its ability to grind wood into powder, similar to flour. Adult individuals are also dark brown, but somewhat larger than the previous ones, up to 6 mm. These beetles appear at the end of spring and summer, fly more often in the dark. They prefer more freshly chopped wood, so they can often be found in logging sites. Life cycle — up to 1 year.

Peculiarities of the life cycle of the bark beetle than the dangerous pest in the garden

The habitat of the beetle may vary depending on the species. Some of them are developed only on living trees, others prefer sawed timber. Also specific for different species is the structure of the labyrinths, which are made by parasites in the tree. Thus, by the type of moves, you can determine which type of bark beetle is infected. The life cycle of most insect species is the same, but the number of generations and populations they may differ and depend on the geographical location and climatic conditions of habitats. The period from laying eggs to maturing individuals in beetles is quite long. First, the female lays eggs — up to 80 pieces simultaneously in the cracks of the bark holes. After 4-5 weeks, the larvae appear, which immediately eat the wood.

The larva of the bark beetle moves in the tree for about 3-4 years, destroying up to 15-20 cm of the tree where it lives. After that, the larva gnaws the cavity closer to the surface of the wood, where it turns into a pupa. After another 7-8 weeks, the young insect leaves the tree and goes in search of the pair. After mating, the life cycle is repeated.

Seasonal activity in all species of bark beetles is different: in the middle latitudes there are both spring species and those that can fly all summer. Daily activity in all species present on the European continent is the same — they fly at sunset. The pest is capable of causing irreparable harm not only to adult trees of all existing species, but also to destroy young ones. However, this is not all that the bark beetle is dangerous with. Species such as fruit and wrinkled sapwood can destroy fruit and stone fruit plantations, causing damage to the entire garden.

Pests in the garden often cause pests to attack, so you need to know how to deal with an earwig, apple fruit moth, slugs, weevil, mice, aphids, shrews, and wireworms.

These beetles are especially dangerous for wooden houses, log houses, as well as wooden structures and other components of buildings. The damage they are able to inflict is comparable in magnitude with the damage from a fire.

Signs of a bark beetle in a garden, how to detect a pest

The main danger to the garden is the bark beetle fruit and wrinkled, which settles on apple, cherry, plum deep in the wood, which makes it extremely difficult to fight it. These parasites and their larvae gnaw through the maze of passages, leading to the death of the trees. It is worth noting that the insect chooses mostly sick, old and weak trees, rarely attacking healthy crops. It is very important for effective pest control to detect it as early as possible. Signs of insect life are easy to notice:

  • regular appearance of woodpeckers in the trees is a sign of a bark beetle defeat
  • small holes in the bark are a clear sign, indicating not only that the tree is affected by the bark beetle, but also that the larvae have already managed to leave it and the infection can escalate into an epidemic;
  • leaves or needles crumble;

There are also a number of particularly disturbing symptoms that signal that the tree where the bark beetle lives, can not be saved and must be destroyed immediately:

  • under the barrel appears fine dust, resembling a dry coffee grounds. This means that the tree is infected with a large number of parasites;
  • if the bark dies off the tree trunk and falls, then the tree has died, even if there are still live branches on it.

How to deal with bark beetle in the country, the best advice

The main difficulty of an effective fight against bark beetles on trees lies in the fact that it spends almost all its life cycle deep in the wood, which means that chemical control measures do not give one hundred percent result: it is difficult for the preparation to penetrate deep into the tree.

But still you can fight such a scourge as a bark beetle, and you need to do it immediately, as soon as there are suspicions about its presence in the garden or on wooden structures.

First, it is worth assessing the degree of damage to the tree. When peeling pieces of bark in places with holes, general weakness and fading, it cannot be saved. In this case, the affected plant is cut and burned. If no more than two or three small holes are noticed on the trunk, and the tree as a whole looks healthy, the bark does not lag behind, if you try to pierce it with a knife, you can save it.

Before you fight a pest, you need to prepare for the work: put on personal protective equipment and use a stiff brush to remove dirt from the tree so that insecticides act more effectively. The preparations are injected with a syringe into the strokes made by beetles. Processes such as Antizhuk, Anti-Shashelin, Confidor, Calypso and Empire-20 have proven their effectiveness. A solution of drugs is introduced into the holes two to four times, as it is absorbed, after which the passages are smeared with garden pitch.

Among the methods of how it is still possible to fight a pest are biologically active drugs based on nematodes. This is an excellent addition to the traditional treatment with insecticides, but it is possible to use it independently with a slight damage to the tree. To do this, use tar or kerosene, a solution which handle holes in the trees. Treatment with this solution can be carried out as a preventive measure in the springtime, immediately after flowering. Copious spraying of branches, trunks and crowns carried out twice with an interval of two weeks. Insecticides are a fairly effective measure to combat bark beetle, as they destroy the beetles that come in contact with the treated surface or with each other if at least one individual comes into contact with treated wood. These are adult individuals, since it is impossible to reach the larvae due to the depth of their location. When the larva turns into a beetle and enters the treated surface, it will immediately die, not having time to lay new eggs. Thus, it turns out to destroy the entire population of insect pests.

Preventive action, how to protect the garden from pests

Preventing the appearance of bark beetle is one of the most important measures to combat this pest in the garden. Consider the most effective preventive measures that can save the garden and wooden buildings from the need for destruction:

  • regular pruning of dry and diseased branches in the trees. This will not allow pests to spread.
  • annual staining with lime mortar;
  • treatment with phosphorus and organic preparations during the period of active hatching of the bark beetle larvae and the emergence of beetles from the bark, since it is impossible to fight the larva by other methods;
  • When treating trees with chemicals, you should add a grated soap to the solution. This will allow the drug to better «stick» to the cortex. The treatment is repeated after two to three weeks;
  • the creation of so-called traps for bark beetles. In the summer period, freshly sawn trunks of deciduous trees are laid out along the entire perimeter of the site. The females of the insects are more likely to choose precisely these «traps» for laying eggs. At the end of summer, these pieces of barrels are burned;
  • It is very important to study which of the beneficial insects and birds eat the bark beetle in order to create conditions in the garden for their attraction. For example, the black woodpecker is an effective killer of bark beetles;
  • carry out regular processing of the trunk and thick branches with a mixture of clay with humus or manure with hydrated lime.

Since the beetle does not like to colonize healthy trees, the most important thing is to regularly take care of the garden in order to maintain its immunity and viability.

Save Your Trees! How to Remove and Prevent Tree Beetle Infestations

Keep Your Trees Healthy and Beautiful

Trees are not only a beautiful part of nature, but they are also a very important part of the ecosystems in which they exist.

We all know that trees are an important source of oxygen for us, store carbon, and provide a home for birds, insects and other wildlife. However, when trees are threatened by the very insects they house, we need to step in and protect them.

Tree beetles, such as mountain pine beetles and bark beetles, are known for posing a dangerous threat to the tree population in many parts of the United States.

What are Tree Beetles?

Tree (or bark) beetles have increasingly become a problem across the US with over 600 species identified in the country. These beetles take up residence in trees and bore into the bark or root systems. It is here that they can cause extensive damage and threaten the tree’s survival. Beetles also lay eggs beneath the bark’s surface causing further damage when they hatch.

Since there are so many different species, it is almost as if there is a different type of beetle for each type of tree. Generally, tree beetles are attracted to trees such as cedar, spruce, pine and fir. Other trees that can be affected by beetles include fruit trees, cypress, arborvitae, redwood and larch.

Bark beetles feed on the cambium layer of the tree — the part of the tree that is continuously growing and producing new cells within the tree.

How to Identify If You Have Tree Beetles

Tree beetles tend to attack unhealthy trees more so than healthier ones. To identify if you have a tree beetle problem, it is useful to know what type of tree you are dealing with and whether it is the type of tree that beetles are apt to infest.

It is also important to note that some areas such as California, Colorado and Wyoming are worse affected by tree beetles. However, this does not totally exclude other areas, since the tree beetle epidemic is spreading outside of these areas to both the northeast and southeast regions.

Some signs of beetle infestation include:

Pitch Tubes

Pitch tubes are usually the first noticeable signs of a beetle infestation. Pitch tubes are popcorn-looking, white patches of resin on the side of the tree trunk. This is the tree’s natural defense to try to expel the beetles from the tree.


If there are an abundance of woodpecker holes in the tree, this is a good indication that there could be a beetle infestation. Woodpeckers feed on the beetle larvae so they are a tell-tale sign that beetles could be residing in your tree.

Boring Dust

If there are mounds of what looks like sawdust at the base of the tree, it’s likely dust resulting from the beetles boring into the tree.

Blue Stain

Blue stain is a type of fungus that accompanies beetles when they attack a tree. Unfortunately, you can only see this blue stain when a tree is cut open, meaning you can only use this method to identify a beetle attack when the tree is cut down.

Galleries Below the Bark

If you remove a small section of bark and inspect below you will find small galleries or tunnels that the beetles have created. Be careful not to pull too large a piece of bark off when inspecting as this could further damage your tree.

How to Remove Tree Beetles

There are a few options available to you for getting rid of beetle infestations. The most drastic way to remove beetles is to cut down the tree completely and burn the wood to ensure no beetles survive to infest other trees. However, this is not ideal, as we want to preserve as many trees as possible.

If the damage is not too extensive, you can simply remove and burn the affected branches, protecting the remainder of the tree from further infestation with an annual bark treatment.

When it comes to how to get rid of tree beetles, you have two options:

DIY Removal

You can attempt to remove the beetle infestation yourself if it’s not too extensive. If you are only removing a few branches, it can be a DIY project.

Professional Removal

If the infestation is more extensive than you can manage on your own, you may need to enlist the help of a professional pest control company to remove affected branches and treat the tree with the correct chemicals to protect the bark from further damage and future infestation.

4 Ways to Prevent Tree Beetle Infestations

The best way to prevent tree beetles in the first place is to ensure the tree is healthy. Since these beetles can survive for three to five years, long-term strategies are recommended.

Here are four simple steps you can take regularly to prevent tree beetles from affecting your trees in the future:

Prune Regularly

Prune trees regularly to ensure that any infected branches are removed before the beetles can move further into the tree. After cutting off branches, it is recommended that you burn them to kill the beetles, ensuring they will not return any time soon.

Keep Trunk Clear

Keep the area around your trees clear of any weeds and other debris to prevent beetles from making their way to your trees.

Use Insecticides

Using insecticides can help prevent damage to the tree’s roots. Since the female beetles tend to lay eggs near the root system, it’s important to protect the roots from larvae with insecticides like carbaryl, endosulfan and pyrethroids.

Keep Trees Healthy

Keep your trees properly watered, mulched and fertilized to ensure they remain as healthy as possible to prevent beetle infestations. You can even use a treatment on the outside of the bark to prevent infestations.

See also:  10 Fascinating Facts About Beetles
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