How Tree Pruning in Newton, MA, Can Stop the Invasive Tree-Killing Beetle Making its Way to Massachusetts

August 30, 2018 5:14 am Published by Leave your thoughts

A new danger to New England pine forests is on its way and arborists are keeping a close eye on this burgeoning threat. The southern pine beetle is said to begin threatening pine trees in Massachusetts as early as 2020. This destructive species could spell disaster for some of our most beautiful and iconic trees. Your tree pruning experts in Newton, MA, are looking for ways to stop some of the devastating effects of this invader.

The Southern Pine Beetle

The genus Dendroctonus, which means “tree killer” in Greek, is a group a several tree killing beetles known all around the world. This genus includes the infamous mountain pine beetle, which has destroyed millions of acres of pine forest in the Rockies.

The species we are concerned about in New England is called the southern pine beetle, which, in a severe outbreak between 1999 and 2002, saw a $1 billion loss for the timber industry in Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas according to the U.S. Forest Service. This beetle, which has never been seen north of Delaware, is now making its way into New England and into our rich stock of pine trees.

The Pine Beetles’ Victims

The southern pine beetles have a particularly brutal way of attacking their victims. They are small, black and about the size of a grain of rice. They can get under the tree’s bark and chew winding tunnels deep inside the tree to feed on its nutrients. A pine tree has a natural defense against insect assaults of this kind. They secrete a toxic resin which kills the insect.

Unfortunately for the tree, the southern pine beetles have power in numbers. They use pheromones, chemical attractants, to summon each other into the same tree. Thousands of beetles descend upon the tree in a ravenous horde depleting the tree’s nutrients and drawing down on the tree’s limited defense resin. The tree simply is no match and will die in a matter of months.

Southern Pine Beetles in the North

Southern pine beetles have already been a problem on Long Island’s famous pine barrens. They are continuing to spread northwards into Massachusetts.

In some ways our cold, winter climate could make the consequences of the beetles’ activity worse. In the warmer south, the larvae mature at different times, but larvae developing in the fall in New England will be hibernating as soon as the temperature drops below fifty degrees. Once the warmer spring whether returns, a mass of larvae will mature at once for a widespread killing spree. The colder weather gives the beetles the power of a synchronized attack.

Some researchers are optimistic in some regards because these beetles only target certain types of pines. The southern pine beetles will be targeting pitch pines, red pines, and jack pines rather than white pines. New England’s largest forests are white pine forests. The cold weather will also limit the beetle’s ability to reproduce.

Stopping the Beetles

Responsible tree and forest management is the best way to stop the infestation. If the beetle infestation can be detected early, these pines can be removed quickly and the forest can be thinned to reduce outbreaks. A professional arborist can see to these tasks and ensure your property is as safe as possible from this invasive species.

Tree Pruning in Newton, MA

In choosing a tree pruning professional in Newton, MA, there are many factors to consider. You are looking for an arborist who is experienced, knowledgeable, affordable, locally owned and operated and listens to your needs. BBD Tree Service is Newton, MA’s, most experienced tree experts. Contact us today to see how you can protect your property from any invasive species.

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