What Caused My Pine Tree To Die?

Q: We had a large pine tree cut down because of pine beetles. The tree died in only two weeks. The trunk had lots of holes with sap dripping out on the lower part of the trunk and narrow trails under the bark. But the sapwood looked perfectly solid. Is that the normal way a tree dies from pine beetles? 

A: The two most common causes for sudden death of a pine tree are a pine beetle infestation or a lightning strike. The symptoms you’ve described sound exactly right for beetle damage. Further, if a nearby tree suffers a lightning strike, the oozing sap can attract pine beetles from far away. Once the beetles start boring, they release a pheromone that brings in even more of the insects. Although Southern pine beetles usually attack the bottom of a tree, they can infest limbs as small as three inches in diameter. Consider hiring a certified arborist (www.georgiaarborist.org) to inspect and possibly treat nearby pines.

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