S.C. Forestry Commission
Results of 2007 SPB Pheromone Survey

June 2007

We have completed the 2007 Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) pheromone trapping.

Trapping Results (pdf)

Map Predictions (pdf)

Trapping Chart (pdf)

Past Surveys (pdf)

A total of 31 S.C. counties were trapped for SPB in 2007 using protocol devised by Billings, et al. This protocol includes monitoring three (3) pheromone traps in each county for a 28-day period during early spring. Insects captured in each trap are returned to the laboratory for analysis. The total number of SPB for each trap is determined as well as the percentage of SPB to clerid beetles. Since clerid beetles are major predators of SPB, the percentage of clerid beetles trapped is factored into insect population projections. Based on this trapping, a population prediction trend is determined for each county. In the past, such surveys have had a success rate of over 80% in predicting the degree of SPB infestation during the following summer. Last year we predicted that significant losses could occur in three (3) counties. Although we had beetle activity in the three counties, it was at a low level.

This years’ trapping was met with a few problems that may lead to less than reliable trapping results. Typically, trap deployment in South Carolina occurs just after dogwood bloom break. Unfortunately, due to detainment at US customs, the pheromones arrived to South Carolina a few weeks after the typical trap deployment time. Additionally, a late season frost occurred during the second week of trapping leading to few, if any, SPB and clerid beetle catches during that period; this may have caused an alteration to the prediction or possibly affected SPB populations due to the freezing temperatures.

We predict none of the counties trapped this year to experience a severe Southern Pine Beetle outbreak. This is the same prediction as last year. Additionally, only Newberry County trapped sufficient beetles in all traps to receive a prediction of increasing – high pine mortality. In Abbeville and Fairfield Counties, we can expect a few scattered beetle spots. The other 28 counties we sampled had few beetles trapped and are not expected to have widespread problems. These counties include Anderson, Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Cherokee, Chester, Colleton, Dorchester, Edgefield, Georgetown, Greenville, Greenwood, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union, Williamsburg and York. This trapping information is presented in tabular and graphical form later in this report.

Statewide, the number of Southern Pine Beetles trapped decreased by 34% from last year’s total and the number of clerids dropped by 42%. This clerid population is still fairly high and should constrain SPB development in most areas, including those with some predicted beetle activity.

In the piedmont, Abbeville, Fairfield, and Newberry Counties have experienced some level of SPB activity for the last eight years. This is a high number of years of chronic beetle activity but we expect the clerids to hold the SPB level down. Beetle spots that occur should spread slowly and be fairly easy to control. However, we have been in an extensive drought cycle and, as the drought continues, that stress could lead to more aggressive beetle activity.

In the coastal plains, we trapped very few beetles. The low trap levels of this year indicate unfavorable conditions for SPB development. Historically, outbreaks in the coastal plain occur shortly after climatological changes. The change is usually from drought to excess soil moisture. This pattern of precipitation has occurred during the last two years, and some pines have been dying. However, the culprits have been either Black Turpentine beetles or Ips engraver beetles.

These trapping data results are for entire counties and there is always the possibility of sporadic and localized beetle activity in counties with overall predictions of low population levels. Activity is most likely in susceptible pine stands which are overstocked, overmature or stagnant, have poor drainage or have littleleaf, annosus or other root diseases present and causing stress.

We will be conducting aerial surveys in all South Carolina counties this summer. In the unlikely event of significant beetle activity, we will fly 100% surveys and notify affected landowners that beetle spots are present on their properties.

As mentioned above, Ips and Black Turpentine Beetles continue to cause mortality in overstocked stands and in areas where excessive rainfall coupled with impermeable hardpan caused some drowning of roots. A summer drought was also responsible for some stress that led to attack by these less aggressive beetles. Since these insects require different control tactics than SPB, it is important to determine which insect is causing each infestation. Ips beetles can be identified by their galleries that are usually H or I shaped rather than the winding galleries of southern pine beetles. Adult Ips beetles also eject the frass from their galleries while the SPB packs its galleries with frass. Black Turpentine Beetles attack the basal portions of the trunk and are a much slower killer than SPB or Ips. We can assist with this identification or provide training where needed. Last summer we evaluated multiple stands that were harvested due to such activity.

In summary, most of South Carolina can expect a year of no to minimal loss to southern pine beetle and related bark beetles. However, Abbeville, Fairfield, and Newberry Counties may be poised for some degree of loss, especially if we have additional stress factors. Control by commercial salvage is effective in stopping any of the bark beetles infesting pines. Another possibility for control of Southern Pine Beetle only is the cut and leave technique. In this control strategy, infested trees and a buffer of apparently uninfested pines are cut but not necessarily salvaged. This method works best from May – October due to high daytime temperatures and SPB biological factors. This is not effective for Ips or BTB spots since those insects breed and mature easily in cut pines or stumps.

It is difficult to predict the degree of loss to SPB since environmental factors affect this. However, our best guess for S.C. for 2007 is for a loss of less than one million dollars. As usual, a hot summer with extended temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit should constrain SPB development.

Please contact us if you have any questions or if we can provide additional information.

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