Outbreak of Ips Bark Beetles “hitting our pines very hard”

In April 3, 2017

The Alabama Forestry Commission is working with Wiregrass timber owners to try to save the timber industry from the outbreak of Ips Bark Beetles.

“Ips Bark Beetles are hitting our pines very hard,” said Alabama Forestry Commission Forestry Specialist Brady Dunn. “The Ips Bark Beetles are affecting our loblolly pines, long-leaf pines, short-leaf pines and slash pines. Pines of all ages can be affected by the Ips Bark Beetle.”

According to Dunn, the main reason the pines are stressed this year is due to the drought conditions suffered last October and November. Other reasons for the stress include wild fires, prescribed burning, timber harvesting and flooding. He also said the southeast is still suffering from some drought conditions which will continue to make the beetles presence known in the pines.

The beetles are attracted to the weakened trees and chew round holes through the outer bark into the cambium layer. Egg tunnels are located in the soft inner bark. Eggs are laid singularly in small egg niches cut along the main tunnel. Larvae hatch and feed in the lines. Emerging adults may or may not attack nearby trees.

“In the southeast portion of Alabama we have 46 confirmed beetle Spots,” Dunn said. “Statewide we have close to 140 confirmed spots. This is the confirmed number. There could be several more that have not been confirmed. That’s why is it is very important for all timber owners to monitor their timber stands. Stands need to be monitored as much as possible. If a timber owner notices reddish brown pitch tubes about the size of a wad of gum on bark plates, reddish boring dust in the bark or yellow needles, owners need to call their local forestry office. The forestry commission offers free consultations. I urge every timber owner to take advantage of the consultation.”

According to Dunn, if the beetle problem is not addressed, timber owners, logging companies and employees of logging companies will see the effects.

“Timber is one of the top three industries for Alabama,” Dunn said. “This could turn into a problem that could affect the economy in many ways. At this time wood is continuously flooding the mills, which could lower the timber prices. If pricing becomes a problem, logging companies, employees and their families will suffer. Then that effect dwindles on down like a domino effect. Everyone could suffer in some fashion. That is why we are reaching out to the timber owners. This problem can be addressed.”

To minimize the impact of the Ips Bark Beetles, Dunn recommends timber owners thin timber at correct times and harvest timber at correct times. Salvage cutting and good forest management are the most practical control measures.

“Thinning times and harvest times are very important,” Dunn said. “However, a timber owner must know when the correct time is for both situations, it differs. If a timber owner has any questions, give the forestry commission a call. That is why we are here.”


Outbreak of Ips Bark Beetles “hitting our pines very hard” by MICHELE W. FOREHAND mwatson@dothaneagle.com.  Available from <http://www.dothaneagle.com/news/business/bark-beetle-problematic-for-some-wiregrass-timber-owners/article_23280736-131c-11e7-b766-43b552bdeb41.html> [Mar 27, 2017;  Updated Mar 28, 2017]

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