DeKalb County

More than just storms: Georgians have to face off with pine beetles to protect local trees

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Keeping our trees healthy is important to prevent them from falling, especially when there are storms.

Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Eboni Deon learned that on top of storm damage, there are also pests to watch out for that could bring down your trees.

During the springtime, our beautiful trees are often threatened by storms, but another serious threat that can cause damage is the pine beetle.

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“You’ll see tiny little holes and within a short period of time you’ll notice your needles browning out and your tree is going into decline,” Josh Moratta, owner of Atlanta Arbor, told Channel 2 Action News.

Moratta said changing colors are just one sign that your trees are infested.

“You’ll see pushing out, we call it a popcorn of sap, where they bored in so you’ll see these little clusters or you’ll see fresh sawdust on the base of the tree,” he explained.

Pine beetles are most active during the spring and summer and can be detrimental to trees because once they get inside, they cut the vascular system of the tree.


That causes nutrients to no longer be able to be transported up and down the trunk.

“It’s like if I just come in and completely plug your arteries to your heart, that’s what it does to the pine trees,” Moratta said. “They instantly die.”

The trees that are most at risk of being attacked are those under some sort of stress. Moratta said it includes trees hit by lightning strikes,near construction work or suffering from drought conditions.

Barrett Gaines said that while she was away from home, lightning struck trees in her yard. She contacted an arborist, but they told her the trees could not be saved.

“The lightning strike definitely injured the trees which left them susceptible to beetles. Unfortunately for these trees, they need to come down for the safety of the houses and cars around us,” Gaines told Channel 2 Action News.

Other trees in her yard were checked and are health, but Gaines says now she’s going to be more vigilant.

“I’ll certainly keep an eye out for concerning signs like pine needles being on the ground, [or] bark being on the ground,” Gaines said.

Arborists say not to wait until you notice damage. Instead, be proactive and have a certified arborist help you check on the health of your trees.

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