Q: My husband has been diligently treating the bark of our pine trees with a borer prevention treatment for ten years. Our neighbors brought home some pine lumber that we now know has borers in it. He thinks that one of his trees may be infected. Is there any kind of systemic insecticide treatment for pine borers?
A: The subject of pine beetles has many angles but yours is different from most. In the first place, I doubt the brought-in lumber had southern pine beetle (SPB) in it. These borers live underneath the bark of a live tree, not in lumber. Maybe the lumber had old house borers instead.
Secondly, despite ten years of poison application, your hard-working husband has not done anything to protect his trees. SPB can attack anywhere – from ground level to way up in the top of a pine tree. The area where he applied insecticide may have been protected, but not the rest of the tree.
Thirdly, the idea of injecting a systemic poison has been researched extensively. The problem is getting the insecticide to the spot where the beetles are living. The chemicals studied thus far do not spread evenly throughout the tree – and so do not provide uniform or effective control. In my opinion, the best a homeowner can do to protect a pine from SPB is to keep it watered during the summer.