Pine beetle infestations damaging Georgia trees

One sign that beetles are in your trees is if the needles are turning brown. / Mary Green

Pine beetles do millions of dollars in damage to Georgia trees annually, but one arborist said that number could be much higher this year.

David Edwards of D&D Tree Service in Albany said the combination of stress from dry conditions, heat and the January storms are resulting in more infestations than normal, and he adds it could get much worse with a potentially warmer summer.

One sign that beetles are in your trees is if the needles are turning brown.

Edwards said three types of beetles are infesting trees: black turpentine, which only go up about eight feet; southern pine beetles, which cover the middle third of the tree; and eps beetles, which Edwards said is the majority of what he’s seen this season and which can cover the whole tree and limbs.

Only the black turpentine beetles can be treated with a spray for wood-boring insects, which homeowners can pick up at local stores.

But Edwards said the best thing you can do to try to prevent beetles from infesting your trees is to keep them healthy.

“If you have a way to keep them watered — you wouldn’t think that you could water a tree that large, but you can. I believe in mulch, where you have a lot of mulch under it, it keeps it from drying the soil out so quick. Basically keeping them in good shape. If you’ve got wind, broken, damaged limbs, take them out,” he said.

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