Drought could mean big year for pine beetles

Drought could mean big year for pine beetles.
It is hard to hike or drive anywhere in North Carolina without seeing a lot of pine trees.
But those trees could come under assault this summer.
"It could very easily happen this year," said NC Forest Service expert Brian Heath.
It’s been 15 years since the last major outbreak, and with the pine trees under stress from drought, it could be a prime time for the beetles to attack in force again.
Property owners should look for small popcorn-sized balls of sap on a tree trunk.
Sap is the only defense a tree has against the beetle.
Drought conditions make it tougher for pine trees to produce enough sap to fight back.
Heath says as the number of pine beetles grow, so do the clarids.
Officials have been placing traps across the state so they can get a count on the numbers of both varieties of beetles.

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