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Red Turpentine Beetle

Red Turpentine Beetle, (Dendroctonus valens LeConte) is the largest and most widely distributed bark beetle in north America. It belongs to a group of beetles that characteristically mine between the bark and the wood of trees. Red turpentine beetle will attack stressed or dying trees and freshly cut stumps and logs.

Red Turpentine Beetle

Red Turpentine Beetle

Adults are reddish-brown and may be 3/8″ in length, the largest of the Dendroctonus bark beetles. Larvae are up to 1/2″ in length, and feed together in a common brood chamber. Pupal chambers may be found at the base of the host tree.

Very large, red pitch tubes concentrated around the basal 3 feet of tree . Egg are irregular in shape but usually vertical and from one-eighth to one-fourth inch wide. Adults are the largest in the genus averaging nearly three-eighths inch long, and are distinctly red-brown. Adults fly and attack from spring to midsummer.

Life Cycle: Attacks occur through the warm weather and peak in midsummer. Adult turpentine beetles bore through the outer bark and excavate short, irregular, longitudinal to cavelike galleries between the bark and the wood. Eggs are laid in groups packed with frass on the sides of the gallery. When the eggs hatch, the larvae remain together and excavate large cavities while feeding. Further development to pupae and adults takes place in the cavity or in short galleries along its margin. Larvae and adults overwinter in the tree. Generations per year varies with climate; in the coldest part of the range, one generation is produced every two years, while in the warmest areas, two to three generations may be produced in one year. This is not one of the most aggressive bark beetles and attacks do not become epidemic

Red Turpentine Beetle

Red Turpentine Beetle

Damage:Trees that are under attack often fade from the top down. Needle color will turn from bright green to light green, then to yellow, and finally reddish brown. The extent of damage to the tree depends on the beetle species. Often, several bark beetle species will attack an individual tree. The initial signs of attack are pitch tubes and/or boring dust. The pitch tubes are small masses of pitch, which are usually whitish in color and often mixed with reddish boring dust or frass. Some beetle species produce only boring dust when attacking a tree.

Red turpentine beetles commonly attack trees already weakened by injury, other bark beetle attacks, or disease. Freshly cut stumps, exposed roots and the lower trunk of declining trees are all attacked, as are “leave” trees after logging operations and fire survivors. It is commonly associated with attacks of Ips or mountain pine beetle, which are usually responsible for the actual death of the tree.

Controls: Silvicultural activities designed to maintain vigorous, fast-growing stock will help as these trees are more resistant to bark beetle attack generally. Minimizing injury to “leave” trees during logging and silvicultural operations will keep the tree from being weakened. Pruning dead branches is fine, but pruning live branches opens a wound that may attract turpentine beetles. Bear in mind that root rot diseases often predispose the tree to bark beetle attack; search the roots and root collar for signs of infections. On high value trees near woodland homes or in campgrounds, chemical sprays may be used to prevent attacks. Lastly, salvage logging of beetle-killed trees is acceptable providing root rot is not present.

Red Turpentine Beetle

Red Turpentine Beetle

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