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Arizona Views: Bark beetles and dead trees

December 31, 2018

We told you about the dead and dying trees in the forests of Arizona and New Mexico this week. What the Associated Press article did not say is what can and should be done.

Forests of Northern Arizona were hit hard about 20 years ago by bark beetles, killing many trees on the Prescott National Forest. Essentially, bark beetles are normal in nature — but when drought happens they are attracted to stressed trees. Pine trees, for instance, would usually protect themselves with sap to push beetles out as they try to bore into the bark; stressed trees don’t have enough sap or have temporarily lost ability to produce it.

The result is an evergreen that turns red, brown or yellow. Death is imminent and not avoidable at that point — at least for that part of the tree, possibly the entire tree.

What to do? Watering trees on your property might help, and I have heard of sprays; however, honestly there’s not much you can do. Once you see the damage, it is too late. I recall this from our prior stories on the subject, but did place a call to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Office in Prescott. They’re closed for the holidays. Side note — For people like me, who heat their homes with firewood, the ability to cut these trees down in the forest would be great (not always allowed). Just sayin’.

Tim Wiederaenders is a former Lake Havasu City resident and an editor with the Prescott Daily Courier, a sister newspaper of Today’s News-Herald.

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