Help: Do I have Southern Pine Beetles?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by SCRich, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. SCRich

    SCRich Well-Known Member

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    Done some reading but not sure what I actually have, maybe nothing and it may be natural. I have several trees, all near digging spots and right of way
    (septic field, underground power, septic tanks) that have died. I expected this due to the nearby digging that went on in the past year since this place was wall to wall pine trees, spacing in some areas of less than 4ft between trees so you are bound to damage roots and have equipment smash the trunks here and there. The septic field was the worst of all the areas for dead trees.

    Even after the FFS plowed a perimiter fire line when we walked the trail we would hear a very loud ticking, all seemed to be coming out of slash piles along the side of the trail. A few weeks ago I cut down 4 trees to clear a path on a marginal DSS signal. I de-limbed them and cut the trunks down to 20ft sections and placed them behind the house to buck them an stack the logs for winter time fire pits, I won't burn pine in the fireplaces we have.

    Now I hear ticking coming from the pile of these freshly cut, previously live trees. I also hear ticking coming from a dead tree in the back yard that was damaged apparently from the installation of the septic tank, it is just a few feet away from one corner of the tank. The ticking stops at times and then continues, it's loud I can hear it from my deck up to 50ft away. Any idea what this is ? I have never seen a beetle but don't know what else it can be. I want to make a wood pile and let it dry out for the winter for some outdoor fires but if just having cut wood brings in pine beetles I don't know if it's worth it.

    Rich
     
  2. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if you have pine beetles or not. I've never heard the pine beetles chewing, and I've had hundreds (if not thousands) killed by SPB's over the years. Pine beetles usually attack trees that have damaged bark. Don't necessarily 'have to' have damage to the tree to get infested, but if they're around, and a tree gets wounded, the spb's will get in.

    About 4 years ago I started noticing chomping noises, and discovered it wasn't pine beetles (which are smaller than a small grain of rice), but large beetles (if my memory serves me) called saw-whet beetles. About the size of a huge cockroach (1 to 2" long). Got some nasty looking pincers. You can hear them chewing and if you look close, they spit out sawdust occasionally. They kill every tree they get into, and don't care if it's pine or oak....

    I researched the cure, back when I first discovered the problem. Cure was...chainsawing and burning... in my case, not what I wanted to hear, as the trees were going to fall on my house. Luckily I had several months time before the trees were totally useless... and I could "engineer" the felling, get the trees down, and to the sawmill...

    Both bugs are bad news... think I'd choose spb's over saw whets though... saw whets don't care if there's prior injury or not...

    My advice? Cut down all trees you think are infected, and burn the wood NOW! Using it for firewood is the thrifty thing to do, but if you do, realize the beetles will keep growing (saw whets eat the cambium and softwood portions of the tree), and hatch out, and you'll have more of a problem next year.

    If I absolutely needed the wood, I'd cut it into firewood, and store it as great a distance as possible away from the house (miles?)... Or, engineer a fire with a drum, and put firewood in and let it bake till it started steaming, to kill the bugs.

    The Nazi Blitzkrieg has arrived... you've got a war on your hands now...
     

  3. Judith

    Judith Well-Known Member

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  4. SCRich

    SCRich Well-Known Member

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    Yes the needles have turned red, if you call it red I call it brown as in dead. I expected to have some dead trees from the septic installation and from the land clearing around the perimiter. Of course trees just on the outside of the clearing would die if during clearing the roots are damaged. All in all the only trees other than a few REALLY OLD trees damaged by downed trees or lightning are where backhoe work was done.

    I just got back inside from some tractor work, it rained a bit for the past 2 days and we are in an EXCEPTIONAL drought which is higher than extreme. Surprisingly a few knocks on the burn pile with the grapple and smoke started up, then a few flickers of flame when I exposed a few sticks. I hand dropped a few branches and in a few minutes had a 2 week old burn going again.

    The one tree still standing near the house that was dead and I heard chomping/clicking coming from came down in a few blinks. The dirt was moist enough so I opened the grapple and pushed downhill. The whole thing came down, stump and all. That was soon added to the fire, I did not buck it but I did snap the tree in 2 with the grapple, hopefully the full tree will burn, I hate placing anything larger than 5ft into the burn since it usually does not burn fully, at least anything living in there will be heated enough to die.

    The trees that I had cut down (not dead and quite healthy) and placed in the back yard to buck and stack was clicking quite a bit so I took it about 800ft away to a staging area that I will sometimes use as a burn zone since it is clear of all trees and growth for about 3/4 of an acre. While taking a smoke break (YES I KNOW!...) I stood at the pile and observed. I did not see any insect except for some common ants, they are all over due to the recent rain and dry conditions.

    During the chomping I saw some small piles of brown dust then on top of that piles of white wood. Not dust but more like grated cheese or coconut shavings. I did not pick at the tree to find the source since I did not want them to migrate out. Hey eat the tree, enjoy while I take you away...

    Texican, these were not damaged but they were cut down, de-limbed, and cut into 10-15 ft pieces I guess that is considered damage maybe. Saw-whet, do they eat from the outside in or the inside out ? I did see on a few occasions the white wood shavings come out of a hole from time to time but no bugs. When I saw the shavings come out I just jumped on the tractor and said enough is enough, these are going right now and I am not going to give any reason for them to escape. Maybe later I'll jump on the ATV and go back to the pile with an ice pick and knife and see what I can dig up.
     
  5. Old Vet

    Old Vet Well-Known Member

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    Call your local forestry people and let them come and look at it. They will know for sure and it is free to have them come and look at it and they will provide you with methods for geting rid of them.
     
  6. SCRich

    SCRich Well-Known Member

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    BTW has anyone heard of any spray treatment that may work? Not for standing trees but if I cut and split these maybe something I can spray on each layer of logs as I build the pile. I don't know if it's worth it but when I lived in Florida we waited all year long for a 1-2 month window where an outdoor fire was enjoyable. We moved here and for one+ year we rented, last year we were dealing with builder problems and moving in so no time. I really was hoping to have a nice pile of wood to burn this year in the fall and spring and MAKE ourselves to have time to sit back and relax.

    Life has really sucked for the past few years, it's time to get back to basics and try to get back some enjoyment from life. Dealing with life, reading the news and actually agreeing with many of the survival forums comments takes a lot out of a lot of people.
     
  7. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    Pine beetles make thousands of tiny holes... about the size of a #2 pencil lead... if you pull the dead bark off, you can usually still see the beetles. If you have a hole the pencil can go through, it's saw-whet beetles.

    You know, you have to do what's necessary to keep the live trees going... unfortunately, both beetles can FLY and it's hit or miss whether anything will work to control them. I did some reading after the first incident and it mentioned stressed trees were at greater risk of s-w attack. Sure enough, all of the hardwoods below my house that are below my dam (where the water table rose dramatically, with all of the pressure just 30 or 40 yards away, and a depth of water over 30' deep), have been killed by bugs.

    First time I saw one of the beetles, I let it live, but I 'rememberized' it's look and characteristics... later that summer a 4' thick red oak died... I cut it down, after it was obvious it was most completely dead... and peeled the bark, found the holes, and dug out the beetles... the same kind I'd spared... Now, I get medieval on any saw-whet I find...
     
  8. SCRich

    SCRich Well-Known Member

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    The forrestry service was here about 6 months ago but were unsure as to the cause, they too thought it was probably the backhoe operations that went on. They were here cutting the fire breaks, I call them again and see what they say now.

    These are probably SPB's then, holes are the size of a pencil led or ice pick, not the entire pencil but they are loud, a clicking chomping sound. I just checked and I got a new bed of coals going well at 00:00 from the smaller chunks of the tree that I tossed on the pile. I'll see how I feel after breakfast in the morning, I'll probably take the grapple of and put the bucket on the tractor.

    These long logs are a pain to fully burn, if it's not too hot I'll buck them so I can load up the bucket and add them to the coals. Monday is a work day so I can't feed the fire well into the night, I don't like to have a burn going while I am not home, not only that it's not legal. I have had no choice than to have a smoldering burn but at least it's not open flames. I did the initial burn 2 weeks ago and it has rained lightly once and hard twice since then and I was still able to get the flames going this morning without even a match! Way too much dirt in there now and I got a ton of small sticks in there but at least it has burned down 90%. Still trying to figure out how to get it fully burned so I can distribute the ashes wherever I can.

    I am rushing a bit here, it's the 2nd week in August and I want to get a fall wildlife crop planted and reduce/eliminate most of my movement back there. The past few weeks we have had at least an hour of rain per week, still not much but if I select the right seed I may be able to get a food plot going for the deer.
     
  9. silentcrow

    silentcrow Furry Without A Clue

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  10. THETOOLMAN

    THETOOLMAN Well-Known Member

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    Thats what I did . They came & I did .. I sprayed .. they are all dead

    (the beetles that is)
     
  11. SCRich

    SCRich Well-Known Member

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    Nope never seen any of those, they do look nasty don't they!

    Toolman what did you spray with? I guess I should be happy in a drought, it rained hard and fast at 06:30 today but it probably put my coals out, I was going to burn a bit more. If I can buy the stuff locally I'll spray the downed trees till' I get another chance to build a new pile and burn in 2 weekends.
     
  12. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    That sure looks like the bug in question... but the ones I have like hardwoods as much as pines... they're both bad news...
     
  13. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    SC, you may have southern pine beetles as most of do but they are probably only in diseased or damaged living trees. What you are hearing is the grubs that get in dead and decaying trees and primarily those trees that are already on the ground. I have even witnessed a log house that was built and was inhabited by these grubs. The owner would lie awake at night hearing the constant noise. Finally the owner had the house wrapped in thin plastic and fumigated to rid the structure of the insects. In your situation the insects are recycling the wood into soil amendments.
     
  14. dustyshoes

    dustyshoes Well-Known Member

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    Here in Florida, the State Park Services are trying to bring back the long leaf pines and are having a real difficult time because of the pine beetles. They do attack the more stressed trees. But, when the park service finds a stand of infested trees, they have a lumber company come in and cut the infested areas and a large amount around the infested area just in case. They are paid for the trees that are cut down.

    I always wondered why they just didn't spend time making the trees less stressful (by watering and fertilizing). I've also seen the pileated woodpeckers peck holes as big as their heads into the trees, reach inside, and then grab and eat the grubs. But, not enough woodpeckers to eat the oh so many grubs.

    It sounds like your trees were super stressed with all the digging and those trees will probably have to be cut and burned plus possibly other surrounding trees.
     
  15. Wolf mom

    Wolf mom Well-Known Member

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    We have had an exceptional draught here in NE Arizona for over 7 years. The pine beetles love stressed trees and have hastened (sp?) the demise of thousands of pine trees.

    No, they don't make any noise. I'd go with what texican is writing.
     
  16. silentcrow

    silentcrow Furry Without A Clue

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    That was only one of many variations. I guess they come in different sizes and colors...and tree preferences! I only saw them once, in some old rotten logs. I think they were pine logs, but could have had other wood mixed in.