Pine borers (beetles?) - Ada, Michigan

Asked January 16, 2020, 11:29 AM EST

Hello Tree Expert! We live in Ada, Michigan with a lot of beautiful tall norway/red pine trees in our yard and surrounding our property. They are all probably 30-50+ years old. We have lived here 14 years, and that is when the builder cleared much of the woods for our lot and built our home. We had a tree cutting crew out to cut down some of the dead pine in the yard. The tree service said that they believe we have pine borers in some of the trees - clearly indicated by small 1/8-1/4" holes in some/all of the dead trees' bark (of course, the needles were all brown, or the needles had all fallen off). They didn't think we could do anything about the pine borers except remove the trees that were dead to keep the borers from moving to the live pine. Again, our property is surrounded by all these pine, so we can't "fell" every tree that gets the borers. Questions: (1) How can I be sure of the type of pest that might be killing the tree (or are the pine just getting old; or were the pines disrupted from when the builders cleared much of the land/woods), and (2) if it truly is pine borers/beetles, is there an insecticide that can treat for it? If yes, (3) recommended insecticide service to do so? Would love to have you come out to look at the living trees. the pic attached is of healthy trees - for you to see if they are norway pine, red pine, or some other sort of pine..... Thank you! Claire

Kent County Michigan

1 Response

Hi, Claire,
Thank you for contacting, "Ask an Expert."
Pine bark beetles are common, and the best way to prevent is just as was recommended, sanitation of dead wood from the property. When that is not possible, as you describe, chemicals may be effective. Here is an article that describes what I think is the pest in your trees:
https://pddc.wisc.edu/2015/07/28/ips-bark-beetle/
As far as species, that is hard for me to determine from the picture. Do you ever find bunches of needles on the ground? We can identify the species from those: five short needles in a bundle is white pine; three long needles in a bundle is red pine. Norway pine is a bit of an ambiguous common name, I'm not sure about that one. If you find a bundle and want to send a picture, please do!
Also, if you read the article and find that is NOT what is plaguing your pine trees, please reach out with the conflicting details and I'll work to provide more accurate information.
Thank you!
-Julie