Get To Know The Mountain Pine Beetle

The Mountain Pine Beetle is a native insect to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Outbreaks of Mountain Pine Beetles can result in large-scale losses of pine trees. Mountain Pine Beetles attack pine trees – ponderosa, lodgepole, scotch, and other species of pine are susceptible.

Characteristics and Life Cycle of the Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain Pine Beetles are cylindrical in shape, have stout bodies, brown to black in color, and about 1/4 of an inch long. The larvae are yellowish-white, legless grubs with a dark head. The larvae are found within the tunnels under the bark.

The Mountain Pine Beetle has one life cycle per year. In the summer adults leave the dead trees in which they mature and seek out large diameter living trees. Although during times of high insect populations, smaller diameter trees may also be attacked. The adult Mountain Pine Beetle digs a tunnel just under the bark to lay the eggs. Each adult can lay more than seventy-five eggs. After the eggs hatch the larvae tunnel away from the egg gallery, forming a feeding chamber that disrupts the nutrient movement of the host tree.

Mountain Pine Beetles spend the winter under the bark of the host tree. The larvae are able to survive through the winter by creating an anti-freeze-like material that allows them to withstand the cold temperatures. They then continue to feed into the spring and pupate into an adult mid to late June.

The adult Mountain Pine Beetle will emerge from the host tree in early summer and will continue to emerge through August. In order for the Mountain Pine Beetle to be successful at killing the tree, it must attack in large numbers.

Symptoms and Signs of a Mountain Pine Beetle Attack

Popcorn-shaped masses of resin called pitch tubes on the trunk where the beetle has attacked and the tunneling begins. Pitch tubes may be brown, red, pink, yellow, or white. Reddish dust is evident in bark crevices and on the ground right next to the base of the tree.

There also could be:

  • Evidence of woodpeckers feeding on the trunk.
  • Reddish or brown needles – the canopy of successfully attacked trees usually turns reddish or brown in May or June following attacks of the previous summer.close-up photo of destroyed foliage by the Mountain Pine beetle

Prevention of the Mountain Pine Beetle

Valuable trees should be sprayed preventatively every year. An application of Permethrin (Astro) or Bifenthrin (Onyx) in ornamental settings or Carbaryl (Sevin XLR) in forested areas will protect pine trees from Mountain Pine Beetles. The applications will protect the tree that it is applied to for that growing season.

Landowners that are interested in protecting their trees should have them sprayed preventatively. Preventative spraying for the control of Mountain Pine Beetle is recommended for any variety of reasons – visual screens, shades a deck or house, or has an emotional, aesthetic, or economic value to the property. A high-value tree may not always be the biggest tree on the property. The best time to spray is prior to the flight of the adult, spraying before mid-June will yield the best results. Preventative applications should be done annually, as long as the epidemic lasts or as long as the trees are considered valuable.

Once an infected tree is discovered nothing practical can be done to save it.

It will take 50 to 100 years to replace a mature ponderosa pine tree in your landscape. It will take only a few minutes to spray it preventatively.

Call Warne Chemical & Equipment Co. Today!

Call Warne Chemical & Equipment Company, Inc. to set up some pest control to make sure that the Mountain Pine Beetle doesn’t get to you this summer.

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