Mountian Pine Bettle in Bennett?

Asked March 26, 2016, 2:58 PM EDT

I live south of Bennett Co. and planted Ponderosa pines years ago. In the last few years I see large pitch tubes and an occasional beetle stuck. Is there an applicator that would be able to successfully treat these trees? Or is it to late?

Arapahoe County Colorado trees and shrubs

3 Responses

There are a number of insects that can attack pine trees and their relatives. Mountain Pine Beetle is one of those that exhibits the types of pitch tubes seen in your pictures. It is very important to correctly identify the insect so that you can make informed decisions regarding your Ponderosa pine trees. Sometimes pitch tubes are a sign that the tree has successfully expelled an insect invader. You state that you have seen beetles stuck to the pitch tubes, this may be evidence of the tree trying to expel the beetle. Insects usually attack stressed trees. Look at the overall health of your tree. Does the tree look healthy? Does the canopy look green and healthy? Any other signs of decay?
Here is a CSU Fact Sheet on Mountain Pine Beetle which has pictures of the beetle and pitch tubes:
The following is from the Fact Sheet:
Signs and Symptoms of MPB Attack

  • Popcorn-shaped masses of resin, called “pitch tubes,” on the trunk where beetle tunneling begins. Pitch tubes may be brown, pink or white (Figures 2 and 6).
  • Boring dust in bark crevices and on the ground immediately adjacent to the tree base.
  • Evidence of woodpecker feeding on trunk. Patches of bark are removed and bark flakes lie on the ground or snow below tree.
  • Foliage turning yellowish to reddish throughout the entire tree crown. This usually occurs eight to 10 months after a successful MPB attack.
  • Presence of live MPB (eggs, larvae, pupae and/or adults) as well as galleries under bark. This is the most certain indicator of infestation. A hatchet for removal of bark is needed to check trees correctly.
  • Bluestained sapwood (Figure 9). Check at more than one point around the tree’s circumference.
Once Mountain Pine Beetle has infested the tree nothing practical can be done to save the tree. At present there is no pesticide labeled for Mountain Pine Beetle.
Ips Beetle can attack Ponderosa Pine as well. The following is the Fact Sheet for Ips Beetle:
These two beetles look very similar, so proper identification is critical. Some of the signs are similar to those of the Mountain Pine Beetle.
  • The tree can fade in color and look dry and reddish-brown in part or all of the tree.
  • Brown boring dust can be seen on the branches or at the base of the tree.
  • Increased woodpecker/flicker activity and bark removal can be seen.
Ips and related beetles that emerge early in summer often are mistaken for Mountain Pine Beetle. There are pesticides that are labeled for use on Ips beetle infestations and trees may survive. Beetles can begin emerging in spring as soon as daytime temperatures consistently reach 50 F to 60 F. so watch for any adults emerging. If you see any beetles emerging you can send a picture of it to us or you can bring a sample of the beetle and/or the beetle and pitch tube into the Arapahoe County Extension Office, 6934 S. Lima St. Suite B where Colorado Master Gardener volunteers are available Monday-Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm. There would be a $6.00 fee for Arapahoe County residents for insect identification.

They are leggy but healthy. Planted to close together 20 years ago. I found an injection that may help. In the meantime, what the heck is attacking my scotch pines? 360 girdle see photo.

It is hard to tell what the distance is from the ground to the upper edge of the girdling, but I am think this is from rabbits. If the teeth marks are about 1/4" wide then it is rabbits, this is about the width of their incisors. The other possibility is voles, but the teeth marks would be smaller and you would see tunnels under the surface of the vegetation around the area. The last possibility are pocket gophers. You will see piles of dirt with no entrance holes nearby and the teeth marks will be smaller than 1/4" wide.
You may have deer in your area but usually you will see additional damage to the trunk than just this one area.
Here are CSU Fact Sheets to provide additional information:
You can put wire around your trees at ground level to about 3' up the trunk of the tree to help protect the bark. It would be a good idea to put wire around the other trees as a preventative measure.
If the girdling is completely around the trunk of the tree the tree may not be able to survive this kind of damage. Damage will appear at the canopy of the tree first.
There is information in the fact sheets for controlling the damage and the animals.