Drought Helps Pine Beetles Hide

Sep 25, 2012

A leading tree expert says the drought is making the Mountain Pine Beetles harder to find and kill. 

SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray reports that if you’re trying to find beetle infested trees this year, you have to look closely.

Normally a pine tree infected by Mountain Pine Beetles isn’t that hard to spot.  The bottom ten or twelve feet of the trunk gets pocked with small spots of sap oozing out of beetle bore holes.  But Dr. John Ball an SDSU professor and tree expert says this isn’t the case this year.  Ball says because of the drought many trees have less sap.  So now  anyone looking for infected pines has to really hunt to find the small bore holes and sawdust the beetles leave behind.
 
“Normally you can see a newly infested tree from maybe 20 or 30 feet away by looking at the globby pitch masses – this year you literally have to stand next to the tree to see that it has been attacked,” says Ball.

Ball says despite popular belief, the drought doesn’t make the beetle infestation worse.  He says beetles infest trees in both wet and dry years.    He says the drought it just makes the beetles harder to find and kill