I wanted to provide some information regarding a new insect now known to be in Connecticut – the Southern Pine Beetle (SPB for short). Expect more detailed information from Dr. Victoria Smith in the upcoming newsletter, but here is some background information to get you started.
SPB has long been a problem in the southeastern US, particularly for the softwood lumber industry. It is a native beetle that tends to lie low in small numbers until conditions are right and then mass-attack stands of trees – including loblolly and shortleaf pines, two of the more economically important southern pines. While it appears to prefer two and three needle pines, it is known to attack five needle pines.
Connecticut was put on alert for this beetle once it was found, first in NJ and then on Long Island. In those areas, its primary target has been pitch pines, which in Connecticut is the primary species in certain unique habitats that are of limited extent and so of special concern. Just last week, it was discovered in Wallingford, at a state park, and since then has been observed at numerous sites around the state. Mostly, the observations have been on Scotch pine and red pine, although it was found in a stand of pitch pine in North Haven. So, it is here.
I would say it is more of an ecological concern than a landscape concern, in that the impact on the unique habitats provided by pitch pine is what is at greater risk. Interestingly enough, the best management recommendation for both landscape trees and forest trees is to keep the trees healthy. A good recommendation for any forester or arborist.
Attached is a short summary by the Bartlett labs that has most of the pertinent information. Keep in mind that the article was written with a southern audience in mind. We don’t know yet, for instance, the number of generations the beetle will be able to sustain here CT.
Also attached is a short information piece, mainly for the pictures. Dr. Claire Rutledge of the CT Agricultural Experiment Station (and the CTPA board) is leading the work on this insect. Dr. Adriana Arango is also working with Claire investigating the nature of this infestation.
Right now, most of the attention is on figuring out where the insect is located. If you see the ‘popcorn’ on the trunk of pine trees such as shown in the pictures, please send an email to Claire letting her know where the trees are. Pictures help. The Experiment Station and the DEEP Forestry are currently working on recommendations as to what to do with these trees. At present, if you know of an infested tree and it is your responsibility to remove it, the best thing is to probably chip it up and remove the chips from site, particularly if there are other pines around. Do not move any whole wood with the bark on, as adults will be emerging later in the spring. If you wish to keep the wood, removing the bark and chipping or otherwise disposing of it (e.g. burning) would work, along with chipping or disposing of the top and branch wood of the tree.
As mentioned, more details will be in the CTPA newsletter shortly and on the website when it is uploaded.
DOWNLOAD >> About the Southern Pine Beetle
DOWNLOAD >> A quick overview of the Southern Pine Beetle