U.S.Forest Service Surveys found that Loblolly Pine is the second most common species of tree in the United States, after red maple.
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The Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) infests and kills Loblolly pines throughout most of its range in Southern and Eastern United States from middle Texas East across the deep south, up and through Kentucky, West Virginia, the Carolinas and down through Florida. It will also infest shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata Mill.), pond pine (P. serotina Michx.), and Virginia pine (P. virginiana Mill.) (Thatcher and Barry 1982).
A new report states, "New Jersey’s trees are (also) in trouble. Southern Pine Beetle, a bark beetle smaller than a grain of rice, killed pines across the state’s southern forests. In 2010 alone, the beetle destroyed 14,000 acres and continues to spread." It has now moved even further North.
Southern Pine Beetles generally have a short life cycle, making suppressing them difficult - especially in the southern-most states. They start to fly very early in the spring (correlated with the flowering of the Dogwood tree in Florida). In the Gulf Coast region, what we know about the reproductive potential and seasonal habits of the SPB clearly suggests that, to reduce beetle populations, direct control should be applied during the winter to be in place and ready when they reach peak flight in late winter and early Spring.
Verbenone Application dates will vary with latitude and climate but are typically started before the ambient average temperature consistently exceeds 80 F.
In the Coastal South, flights recur several times, and re-treatment is required. SPB emerge and attack in Dec, Jan, and February in large part undetected because new infestations in the Gulf Coast Regions during the fall, winter, and early Spring are difficult to detect due to inclement weather or wet ground conditions. Consequently, as many as 3-4 consecutive beetle generations may effectively escape control during the very season when the attack:emergence ratio of the insect is at its highest.
Control during the winter is less problematic in the northern part of the beetle’s range (Tennessee, the Carolinas, Virginia and north). Cold winters tend to restrict beetles to the multiple-tree spots they occupied during the fall; this fact simplifies winter detection. Since the beetles complete only three to five generations per year in this area, overwintering broods seldom emerge before late April or May.
Newly hatched adults leave the tree of their metamorphosis, seeking out larger trees in the surrounding area.
When the adults arrive at their tree of choice, they begin tunnelling under the bark. Soon after initial attack, females emit an aggregation pheromone (frontalin), which attracts males and more females to the tree. This pheromone, in conjunction with host odors stemming from resin exudation at attack points, attracts more SPB to the tree.
Resin under pressure within the tree can successfully force out or "pitch out" beetles if there are only a few beetles and the tree is relatively healthy. (see Pitch Tubes in the image left) However, mass-attacking SPB deplete the resin production capabilities of the tree causing resin flow to cease, after which point the tree is easily overcome.
Females lay fertilized eggs. The bad news is that Parent adults may then re-emerge from the tree one to 20 days following depositing the eggs and proceed to attack the same tree or another (Thatcher et al. 1980). The original eggs, which turn to larvae, develop to produce more egg-laying adults to attack more trees. Additionally, the hatched larvae feed under the bark in the phloem layer, introducing fungi, yeasts, and other organisms that lead to tree death. see See this entomology report from the University of Florida
The Southern Pine Beetle presents more challenge than Mountain Pine beetles or Fir Beetles due to its general geographic location in milder southern climates. SPB attacks begin in early spring or late winter and can occur well into autumn; as many as eight generations can occur in one season making the beetle attack resemble an advancing front, much like an army on the attack. Prophylactic treatments (such as Verbenone) must be used IN FRONT of the "spear" of the attack.
Spots may remain active throughout the year in the lower Gulf Coast. Each successive generation attacks nearby live trees. It is estimated that one infested tree will kill at least two and possibly more trees, and each generation adds to the mortality. Thus the exponential devastation occurs.
As always, the best defence against Southern Pine Beetle is a healthy stand of trees that are able to defend against attack. Proper spacing, basal area, water and removal of brood trees and unhealthy trees are all important.
It is also important to remove and properly dispose of infested trees and slash prior to trying to deter beetle populations from attacking good trees in the stand.
Verbenone is widely used preventing attacks on valuable Pine stands. Dense stands of large Loblolly trees are at highest risk of attack. If direct control is deemed necessary, trees can be protected using the anti-aggregation pheromone (S)-Verbenone, which disrupts beetle aggregation. Combining Verbenone with salvage of infested trees has been successful at reducing subsequent tree mortality.
Beetles and other insects communicate using pheromones. Verbenone - a synthetic pheromone treatment for high value pine trees - replicates the beetle pheromone, sending a message that the tree is full and that the food supply is insufficient for additional beetles. Arriving beetles receive the "message" that they should look elsewhere for a suitable host.
Verbenone helps control:
And can be used on:
Verbenone has been used as part of integrated pest management programs (IPM) for more than a decade. Many studies show that areas treated with Verbenone, as part of an IPM program, fare significantly better than those that are not. Used commercially by Forest Service, State Agencies, Recreation Areas, Home Owner's Associations in high value recreational or private land holdings.
Verbenone is environmentally safe and non-toxic to humans, pets, birds, and even the beetles themselves. Registered by EPA and most Rocky Mountain States. All pheromones in controlled release dispensers are approved organic by USDA/NOP. It is user and Eco-Friendly. Unlike the insecticides approved for Pine Beetle control,Verbenone does not kill bees, beneficial insects, aquatic organisms. Not restricted use. Always follow label instructions.
Easy to use controlled release pouch that is placed on individual specimen trees or placed in a grid pattern when wanting to protect acreage. Placed approx 6-7' high on the north face of the tree (where there is more shade) or downwind of prevailing breezes so that the "plume" of pheromone will waft in the direction of the trees being protected (the front edge of the infestation progression).
For Southern Pine Beetles, it is our recommendation that you treat the tree about 7 - 10 feet high (2m) just prior to beetle flight season at a rate of 1 dispenser per tree
In most Gulf Coast states, treatment should begin in October, again in February, and again in June to last through October.
For treatment areas greater than half an acre apply VERBENONE dispensers 6-12 feet above the ground, around or on the north face of susceptible trees in a grid pattern at a minimum of 20 applications/acre. Maximum allowable dose is 60 dispensers/acre/year. For treatment areas between one half and one quarter of an acre, place dispensers at 35 foot intervals around the perimeter and place the remaining dispensers on the north side of the largest diameter trees
Treating larger areas gives a geometrical advantage in so far that beetles repelled from the area try to fly out of the repellent treated area, and the larger the treated area the more beetles are likely to exhaust and die during flight.
For protecting stands of trees, use at least one pouch every 25 feet in a perimeter surrounding the stand. Also place a Verbenone pouch on the North side of the largest tree. By encircling the stand and boosting the repellent on the most desirable tree, the pouches can be used in more economical fashion and may help to protect more than the one tree per pouch.
If your trees may be attacked from unattended neighboring property, try to create a Verbenone barrier on trees on the windward side of your trees (as described above) in a perimeter no more than 25 feet apart and boosting the protection on your largest trees.
Verbenone is prescribed as part of a multi-faceted approach to pine beetle management. No single treatment can totally prevent attacks. Additionally, preventative measures will need to be repeated each year or each flight season in areas with more than one season annually.
Studies have shown that during epidemic conditions, the pressure from beetle populations who must go SOMEWHERE (even if conditions are not optimum for them) may reduce the effectiveness of all treatments. Given the "find a tree of any size or perish" imperative that emerging pine beetles face, they may habituate to both chemicals and pheromones. However, we still have a few years to work on the problem in areas that are not yet overrun. That time may give just the breather necessary to let nature begin to draw back the danger or for other management techniques to take hold.
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