Pine trees are hardy trees that live a long time and they are easy to recognize with their woody cones and needlelike leaves. Pine trees can tolerate conditions that can be harsh and can resist pests and diseases very well unless they’re unhealthy. Pine trees can then become weak and will affect the way it looks. There are some diseases that can even kill the tree.
What is Killing My Pine Trees?
Bark Beetles. These beetles will attack pine trees by boring into the inner bark of the branches and the trunk. The beetles will injure the tree and cause it to become weak. Once the tree becomes weak it will be more susceptible to other diseases. There are some species of beetles that can actually kill pine trees. Trees that are more susceptible will be those that are weak from drought. If a tree becomes infected it is very hard to treat it with pesticides because bark beetles are hard to control this way. Beetle infestations can be avoided by keeping trees healthy, watered and injury free.
Pitch Canker Disease. The fungus Fusarium circinatum causes pitch canker disease and affects pine trees. This fungus is spread by flying insects like bark beetles. Trees that become affected will have branch tips that are wilted and the needles will turn yellow or reddish-brown in color. The needles will eventually drop and leave exposed branches. The trunk may have lesions on it and the branches will experience resinous oozing. As the disease progresses the crown of the tree will die and cause the tree to become weak. Once the tree becomes weak it will be more susceptible to insects and other diseases. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for pitch canker. Some trees can recover from the infection after several years.
Pine Wilt Disease. This is a lethal disease that is caused by a native nematode vectored to trees by a wood-borer insect, the pine sawyer beetle. If these nematodes are introduced to the tree, they will spread rapidly through the tree’s resin canal system. This will make it hard for the tree to take up water and the needles will start to wilt and turn brown because the tree is deprived of moisture. Once infected, the tree can live for a few years but will most likely kill it in a few months. There’s no cure for this disease but the spread of it can be controlled with proper sanitation of tools used to cut and by getting rid of trees that are infected by chipping or burning.
Needle Blight. The fungus Dothistroma pini causes needle blight and affects many types of pine trees. The fungus will cause the needles of the tree to die and fall off. You will know that the tree has been affected with this fungus when you notice dark green bands that will develop on the needles. The bands will them turn reddish-brown and the tips of the needles will turn light yellow causing the whole needle to turn brown and fall off. This will start on the lower branches and then spread throughout the tree if left untreated. The tree will die within a few years. This disease can be controlled with copper fungicides applied once or twice a year.
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