Pine beetles are harmless to humans and animals, but they’re deadly to trees. You’ll find pine beetles along the west coast of North America, as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico.
If you have a cabin along the west coast and have noticed mysterious popcorn-like resin bubbles showing up on your trees or a layer of dust at the base of your trees, you probably are dealing with a pine beetle infestation.
The most important thing to do is act fast, before the pine beetles destroy all the trees on your property. Here’s what to do.
Six steps to manage a pine beetle infestation
Step 1: Attract some woodpeckers
Woodpeckers have been shown to reduce pine beetle populations, so, while you normally don’t want to attract woodpeckers to your trees, in this case you’ll need to make an exception. Woodpeckers will be attracted to your trees if you set out a mixture of nuts and raisins, combined with suet. You can also leave out cracked corn and black-oil sunflower seed to lure them to your infected trees.
Step 2: Remove the infected bark
Get rid of the infected bark by peeling the bark back using either your hands, if it’s severely damaged, or an axe. If you use an axe, you’ll need to stick a wedge in the cut, then hammer the wedge down until the bark comes off. Do this until all the infected bark has been removed.
Step 3: Burn the bark
Get rid of the infestation by burning all the bark you just peeled off. This is an important step to kill off the beetles along with the infected bark. Toss the infected bark into your fire pit for easy disposal.
Step 4: Spray your tree
Next, spray what’s left of your tree with an agent that will kill the pine beetle in every stage of its life cycle. Use borer spray that includes the key ingredient of lindane for best results and to ensure that every beetle is dead, no matter if it’s still in larvae form or is fully formed.
Step 5: Spray insecticide
Now that the beetles are dead and gone, you need to prevent more pine beetles from infesting your tree in the future. Spray insecticide that has the ingredient carbaryl in it on your tree to proactively prevent future outbreaks.
Step 6: Thin out your trees
Call a professional to come out to your property and thin out your trees. This is an optional step that you should consider if the above steps don’t do anything to help with your pine beetle infestation. It’s also a good idea if you plan on staying in that location long-term, as it will prevent future beetle infestations.
There’s nothing worse than seeing your beautiful trees get sick and die because of an insect infestation. Pay attention to your trees so you can notice the signs of a beetle infestation. If you suspect you have one, get rid of it by using the above steps.