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Small beetle killing 40-foot pines in Tucson

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Small beetle killing 40-foot pines in Tucson

By Keaton Thomas. CREATED Sep 2, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tiny beetles, measuring just millimeters in length, are beginning to kill 40-foot-tall pines in Tucson. They are costing some homeowners thousands in tree removal fees too.

"After all the treatment and removal fees the cost was about $18,000," said Janelle Menick, a homeowner on the east side.

There is an open space about 50 yards wide where tall Aleppo pine trees used to stand before engraver beetles killed them. 

"At this point from here down to the next large tree down there that is still upright there was an additional 12 trees," said Mary Slachter referencing the gap. She is a co-owner of Quality Tree Service. Slachter says she is passionate about trees and wants to make sure Tucsonans know about this potential problem.

She explained the symptoms of an engraver beetle infestation.

  • Cloudy, orange sap. It is a sign of sawdust being pushed out of the tree.
  • Pale bark up one side of the tree.
  • Shorter needles than normal.
  • Tiny exit holes from beetles digging out of the tree bark. Some can be tiny, others a little larger depending on the size of beetle.
  • Curved pathways engraved on the underside of the bark. This is due to beetles eating their way through the inside of the tree.

Slachter says the National Forest Service does not know why the beetle is starting to show up in Tucson, but people with large pines should know how to prevent an infestation.

"The best prevention is to go ahead and keep your trees healthy and keep them watered properly out by the canopy line," she said.

Slachter says the engraver beetle will only attack a tree that is distressed. In Tucson, that can be due to lack of water.

If your tree is infested, there is no way you can save it from dying. It must be removed to keep the beetle from spreading to other nearby trees.


Keaton Thomas

Keaton Thomas

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Keaton Thomas started work at KGUN9 in June of 2014 and he is happy to be bringing breaking news and stories that matter to Tucson viewers during the week and on weekends.