South Carolina Forestry Commission
PINE BEETLE OUTBREAK OFFICIALLY OVER
(Columbia, SC) -The costliest outbreak of southern pine beetle in South Carolina history is officially over. In declaring the epidemic’s end, State Forester Bob Schowalter said the tiny insects’ eight-year rampage killed almost $360 million worth of timber.
Scientists say the outbreak started in York County in 1998, eventually spreading to 23 counties statewide. While the upstate sustained the heaviest losses, infestations reached epidemic proportions in some midlands and coastal counties as well.
According to experts, southern pine beetle populations are cyclic by nature and under certain conditions can quickly reach epidemic proportions. Contributing to this epidemic was a sustained drought which weakened trees, making them especially susceptible to attack.
Over the course of the epidemic, beetles killed more than 26 million of South Carolina’s pines. In 2002, the peak outbreak year, loss estimates exceeded $220 million dollars. Prior to 2002, the highest single year loss was about $107 million.
While there is no foolproof protection against pine beetles, foresters say vigorously growing trees resist beetle attacks. Landowners seeking management advice should contact their local Forestry Commission office or a registered consulting forester.
For more information, contact: Ken Cabe, 803-896-8820.