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Pine Bark Beetles

Hurricane force winds and flooding stressed these slash pines (Pinus elliottii) and made them susceptible to bark beetle infestation.

Identifying the species of beetle that is attacking your pine trees is critical for successful pest management. Someone simply telling you that you have “borers” is not a diagnosis and often leads to fear and unnecessary tree removal. 

Florida has five pine beetles of significance: three Ips species (Ips spp.) the black turpentine beetle (Dendroctonus terebrans), and the southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis). Of the five pine bark beetles of significance in Florida, only the southern pine beetle regularly attacks healthy and unstressed trees. And finding a true SPB infestation is relatively rare. More often than not, the pine trees that we see have been stressed from construction, storms, or flooding, and the beetles are able to attack while the trees are recovering. Determine what species has invaded as well as pinpointing the stressor is a true diagnosis and the only way to stop the recurring invasions. 

A qualified arborist trained in analysis, or a practicing forester, can use visual diagnostics to identify the different species of beetles that have attacked a tree. These include, entry hole size and location, internal tunnels called “galleries” and more. Unless someone can tell you what species of beetle you are dealing with, you aren’t getting a full answer.

If bark beetles are attacking your pine trees, then likely something is stressing the trees and making them susceptible to attack.

Ips beetles and their galleries.
Entry holes through the bark plates are diagnostic of Ips beetle species.
Entry holes located in the spaces between the bark plates are diagnostic of southern pine beetles.