Georgia’s ongoing drought has led to an unprecedented outbreak of destructive beetles that are killing pine trees. Aerial surveys by the Georgia Forestry Commission show active infestations of Ips engraver beetles in timber stands, primarily in north and central Georgia. The pest’s spread elsewhere, however, can’t be ruled.
“The lack of rain is causing long term damage to trees,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Forest Health Coordinator Chip Bates. “We’re seeing immediate damage in the form of dying tree tops, brown leaves and dropping needles. Without water, tree roots will suffer, and that’s a perfect infestation scenario for the Ips beetle.”
According to Bates, colder winter temperatures and more moisture customarily slow Ips engraver beetle populations. In the past few years, very few Ips beetle spots were found and they did not routinely pose the threat that’s being seen this year. In January of 2017, surveys above Georgia’s fall line confirmed more than 200 Ips infestations, on tracts of five to 180 acres in size. More than 3,700 smaller spots on a quarter acre or less were recorded in central Georgia.
(Via Georgia Forestry Commission)