Southern Pine Beetle outbreak killing pine trees in central and - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Southern Pine Beetle outbreak killing pine trees in central and southwest counties

An invasive species of insects is attacking and killing pine trees in central and southwest Mississippi. Source: WLBT An invasive species of insects is attacking and killing pine trees in central and southwest Mississippi. Source: WLBT
According to forestry officials, the Southern Pine Beetle is destroying trees in national forests and surrounding areas. Source: WLBT According to forestry officials, the Southern Pine Beetle is destroying trees in national forests and surrounding areas. Source: WLBT
In the Bienville National Forest in Scott County, a section of pine trees, although healthy looking, is in fact dead. Source: WLBT In the Bienville National Forest in Scott County, a section of pine trees, although healthy looking, is in fact dead. Source: WLBT
The trees were killed by the Southern Pine Beetle in what experts describe as the worst outbreak since 1995. Source: WLBT The trees were killed by the Southern Pine Beetle in what experts describe as the worst outbreak since 1995. Source: WLBT
U.S. Forest Service entomologist Jim Meeker said the Southern Pine Beetle has so far been identified in over 2,100 locations since March. Source: WLBT U.S. Forest Service entomologist Jim Meeker said the Southern Pine Beetle has so far been identified in over 2,100 locations since March. Source: WLBT
SCOTT COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

An invasive species of insects is attacking and killing pine trees in central and southwest Mississippi. 

According to forestry officials, the Southern Pine Beetle is destroying trees in national forests and surrounding areas. 

In the Bienville National Forest in Scott County, a section of pine trees, although healthy looking, is in fact dead.

The trees were killed by the Southern Pine Beetle in what experts describe as the worst outbreak since 1995.

U.S. Forest Service entomologist Jim Meeker said the Southern Pine Beetle has so far been identified in over 2,100 locations since March. 

Last year, the destructive insect killed over 23,000 acres of pine trees. 

"It happens very quickly. Infestation can grow from just a few trees to many acres in size to over a thousand contiguous acres in just a single summer," said Meeker.

Southern Pine Beetles are about two to four millimeters in length and bore into the pine tree's inner bark, creating "S" shaped tunnels. 

The damage stops photosynthesis, preventing the tree from getting water and nutrients. 

A canvas of gray, red and yellow treetops indicates dead and dying trees. 

The beetle targets the Loblolly and shortleaf pine trees.

"A mass attack - literally thousands of beetles attacking a pine tree at the same time and the trees defensive system can not keep up with that kinds of pressure and eventually the tree will succumb," explained Meeker.

Stopping the spread and restoration are underway through timber cut and sales.

Forestry experts report that beetle infested wood can still be sold for production.

Meanwhile the dead and surrounding trees are cut to remove the pheromones and begin reforestation.

"If you own pine trees be very, very vigilant. Be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of the Southern Pine Beetle, foliage discoloration," added Meeker. "Take a look at your crowns. Make sure if you see patches of dead, dying pine trees to investigate further. Peel back the bark and look under the bark for the winding "S" shape galleries which is a signature of the Southern Pine Beetle".  

According to the U.S. Forest Service from 1999-2002, an outbreak in the eastern United States caused an excess of $1 billion in timber losses.

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