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Aug 29, 2014 7:22 PM by John Patrick

Destructive pine engraver beetles detected in Tucson

TUCSON - A problem that was once confined to the forest has now made its way down to the desert floor. For the first time, arborists are finding pine engraving beetles infecting non-native Aleppo pine trees in the Tucson metro.

Janelle Menick had to cut to down 10 Aleppo pines that lined her property on Tucson's east side. Menick had well over a dozen pines but only a few are left standing after the pine engraving beetle hit her house and now her pocket book hard.

"About $18,000 I've spent so far to remove ten trees," said Menick.

Mary Slachter, Arborist for Quality Tree Service, said it is uncommon for the beetle to be found this low but infested ponderosa pine firewood brought down to the community from the Catalina Mountains may be the reason. Now that they are here, Slachter said they are moving fast.

"They are spreading out now. They were coming in as far east as 49ers and they are as far as Silverbell now," said Slachter.

The little beetles are working fast too. As they dig tunnels under the bark they choke off vital nutrients, in some cases they are killing 60 foot Aleppo pines in as little as three months.

Pencil sized holes in the bark, discolored bark and pine needles are signs the tree may be infested.

Pine engraver beetles favor stressed trees so Slachter suggested homeowners make sure to regularly water their pines.

With thousands of Aleppo pines in the Tucson area, it is imperative that infested trees be removed of properly so the beetle doesn't spread.

The Fairfax landfill facilities can handle, treat and recycle the infested wood properly.

If you think you have a tree affected by the pine engraver beetle, call a certified arborist for further evaluation.

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