Mississippi facing Southern Pine Beetle outbreak

Mississippi facing Southern Pine Beetle outbreak

JACKSON, MS - The U.S. Forest Service announced their efforts to manage the infestations of the southern pine beetle.

This beetle is threatening to have damaged tens of thousands of acres of pine forests in Mississippi.

Forest Health officials have classified the level of infestations as a severe outbreak.

"This outbreak is unprecedented in scope with beetle activity progressing at breakneck speed with infestations rapidly escalating in size, coalescing, and decimating whole plantations," said Jim Meeker, an entomologist with Forest Service.

"We have put together a dedicated team of professionals to manage our beetle suppression and resource protection efforts as an incident. This approach provides an increased focus and additional resources as we work to protect resources on public and private forest lands," said National Forests in Mississippi Forest Supervisor Gretta Boley. "We are working very closely with our state partner, the Mississippi Forestry Commission."

Forest workers are cutting infested trees to suppress the spread of the beetles and protect resources.

Cutting trees helps prevent spot growth by disrupting the beetle pheromone communication system and thus their ability to effectively aggregate and mass attack new pine trees.

It is generally thought that most southern pine beetles die before they can colonize trees in a new spot, particularly in the summer when survival outside of the tree is short.

For more information about southern pine beetles, go to www.mfc.ms.gov/SPB-Prevention