View Full Version : HELP! Sand Pines and Tree Borers?

11-24-2004, 05:24 PM
Since we've moved in to our house last year, we have lost 16 trees :cry: Nine to what the tree guy called "tree borers" and seven to a hurricane. Is there ANYTHING we can do to help our trees and stop the borers? I've tried, unsuccessfully to get any answers from other places. Our two acre property is looking pretty bare, and we'd like to try to save the remaining trees. Thanks!

Quirky Quercus
11-24-2004, 06:54 PM
It might be a fungus called sand pine root disease.
Here's a link to help you identify the problem.


It could also be the southern pine beetle.

When saccarum checks in to the board I just know he will provide more insight. He's a studying these very pests.

Sorry to hear about all your tree loss. Sand pines are very nice and are quite common where I am.

11-24-2004, 08:25 PM
Hi allic,

Taxodium is right, I work for the FL Forestry Division, looking at stuff like this.

There are a number of different bark or wood-boring beetle species that can attack your sand pines. Under normal circumstances, none of them will successfully attack healthy trees. Outbreaks usually occur when the trees are stressed for some reason - then they come in and finish them off. When a stand has a lot of stressed or dying trees (like during a drought), the beetle populations can build up to the point where they start killing healthy trees.

The most common problem is that the stand needs to be thinned. Florida sand pines are usually planted much, much too close together for them to thrive without being thinned out as they grow. Too many trees competing for the same amount of light, moisture, and nutrients. This often leads to infestations of bark beetles such as the Ips engraver beetles.

Are these large trees or small? What does the stand look like?

11-24-2004, 09:31 PM
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. The pines are huge (70 feet or so tall). I've been told the property use to be a forest twenty or so years ago (before the house was built). The "stand"--is that the landscape? The trees were pretty close together. We have a lake in the back yard, bordered by cypress trees...two pine trees in back then the hill goes up past the house then down towards the street. In the front yard there are probably about ten pines, spread out some. The 16 we lost were all in the front. They seemed healthy and then one by one we noticed they were brown. There are small holes in the bark on a few of them and on the big one in the back yard (not a sand pine like the others, I think). We have a sprinkler system, so drought is probably not our problem now. I'm thinking the bug population has gotten huge and is attacking the healthy trees. Any suggestions? Thanks again so much!

11-25-2004, 07:29 AM
That's actually very large for a sand pine. Sounds like yours are also in a pretty open situation - I was thinking of the sand pine plantations that folks have in northern FL (planted in rows like a crop). So, spacing isn't the problem - and in such a sparse setting the bug populations aren't usually going to get big enough to attack unstressed trees.

How long has the sprinkler system been in use? Is the soil sandy, or clay? Has there been any landscaping done around the trees lately? Have you seen any signs besides the emergence holes - like resin weeping out of the bark?

I'm thinking that Taxodium was probably close to the mark, and root rot may be the problem. Sand pines do best on very deep sand, and if their soil is kept too wet between rains (such as through heavy irrigation, or if the heavy rains this year changed the water table height), the roots can slowly suffer and weaken the tree (leaving it vulnerable to insects).

As you can see, usually there are a number of factors leading to the death of a tree. Bark beetles come to finish off a tree that's having some other trouble, and stick around to feed on the remaining phloem after that tree has died. However, I would definitely recommend that you have the dead trees removed ASAP, before the next generation of beetles emerge from them.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!