ALERT: Pine Beetle Infestation!

Several 100ft+ pines near the Clubhouse have died as a result of Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) infestation.
The Southern Pine Beetle is an aggressive tree killer and considered to be one of the most destructive insects in the Southern United States.
SPBs are only active in vertical, upright trees. When an infested tree is downed, the beetles inside become disoriented and go dormant. Tree cutting is therefore the most effective method for containing an infestation. While this seems like a simple solution, it could be very costly one for forested neighborhoods like Lost Creek if the infestation is allowed to spread. The HOA is currently reviewing tree service bids to have these trees removed ASAP.
Southern Pine Beetles pose a serious threat to our beautiful landscape if they are not swiftly contained. To protect our beloved pines, it is extremely important that all Lost Creek residents survey their pine trees regularly to check for evidence of infestation.
The article below contains some useful information about how to spot a Southern Pine Beetle infestation and what you can do to prevent it.
Source: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/trees/southern_pine_beetle.htm
Survey and Detection

Often the first noticeable indication of Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) attack is foliage discoloration. Crowns of dying pines change color from green to yellow to red before turning brown and falling from the tree. The time it takes for these changes varies seasonally. Frequently, by the time crowns are red the beetles have already vacated the tree. The earliest signs of possible SPB-attack is the presence of brownish-orange boring dust and tiny white pitch pellets accumulating at the base of the tree, in bark crevices, in nearby spider webs, and on understory foliage. A more noticeable indication of SPB attack is the presence of multiple popcorn size lumps of pitch (i.e., pitch tubes) on the outer bark of pine stems. These pitch tubes may occur from near ground level up to 60-ft. (18-m) high, but may not develop at all on trees severely weakened before beetle attack. The most diagnostic sign of SPB activity is the presence of the winding S-shaped galleries that cross over each other and are packed with boring dust and frass. These can be found by exposing a portion of the inner bark beneath pitch tubes or by removing a section of bark. Another sign of possible SPB activity is the presence of clear shot-like holes (ca. 1 mm in dia.) on the exterior bark surfaces where SPB have emerged (Billings and Pase 1979, Thatcher and Conner 1985). SPB infestations typically kill groups of trees, which allows for prioritizing investigations of suspect mortality.

Prevention and Control

Preventative strategies for homeowners and forest managers include:

  • planting more resistant species such as longleaf pine and slash pine in place of loblolly pine and planting loblolly pine only on appropriate sites (i.e., right tree for the right place);

  • thin overstocked, dense or stagnant stands to a basal area of 80 sq. ft. per ac. (18 sq. m per ha) or less;

  • maintain at least 25 ft. (8 m) distance between mature pines in urban settings;

  • promote tree diversity in the landscape;

  • remove damaged pines;

  • maintain tree health and vigor by supplemental watering during extended dry periods;

  • minimize construction and logging damage to pines and avoid soil compaction during operations;

  • minimize changes in soil and water levels around pines;

  • conduct logging or land clearing operations during coolest winter months;

  • shorten rotation ages to less than 30 years; and

  • apply an approved insecticide to high-value trees when the threat of SPB attack is imminent and the potential benefits outweigh the costs and risks of chemical use.

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