ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany tree expert told WALB News 10 that's seeing more dead trees than ever before and the growing threat could be in your own backyard.
"Everywhere you drive, all of your pretty trees are dying left and right," Lee Harper of Harper Tree Service said.
There are multiple factors contributing to this sudden plague.
Area pine trees are being invaded by the powderpost beetle and the ips beetle, a new guest to South Georgia.
"I've been in business for 16 years and I've never seen the ips beetle until this year," Harper said.
But now, he's seeing evidence of the beetles in several yards.
"It's beginning to be a heavy, heavy problem," Harper added.
The ips beetle attacks the tree from the top, while the powderpost beetle enters from the bottom.
"They come from the ground and drill into the trees," Harper said.
And once they settle in, they multiply.
The eggs hatch and all the beetles go through and get all of the sap out of the tree," Harper said.
And removing all of that sap eventually kills the tree.
WALB News 10 spoke to the Georgia Forestry Commission last November. A forest health specialist said one of the main reasons for the beetle infestations was due to last year's drought.
There are a couple of steps that you can take to make sure the beetles aren't threatening your trees.
Harper said to first look for drill holes in the tree, then look for sawdust at the bottom of the tree.
If you see an issue, Harper suggested a tree service company.
"It's best to have licensed sprayers to come by and spray your trees, because you have to be all suited up to spray it," Harper said.
And continue to keep an eye out, because if the problem goes unnoticed then our pine trees could become extinct.
"In 30 or 40 years, we aren't going to have any pine trees left and South Georgia is known for our Georgia pine trees," Harper said.
Harper said he's also seeing a growing fungus called needle blight that's becoming contagious among area Leyland Cypress and Douglas-Fir Trees.
If homeowners see their trees turning brown, it may be due to the fungus.
If the tree has a few dead branches, Harper said to remove them and then spray the tree with Kocide Spray.
The spray can be found at a number of area nurseries or lawn service stores.
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