Insects attack drought-stressed trees

Southern Pine Beetle a problem for trees

Author: Mary Lee, Meteorologist, mlee@kprc.com
Published On: Feb 13 2012 06:55:30 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 13 2012 08:36:35 PM CST
drought-bugs-kill-trees
HOUSTON -

The devastating drought across southeast Texas killed thousands of trees. Now, insects such as the Southern Pine Beetle are invading the already stressed and weakened trees.

"It's so sad," said Mary Ann Limmer, a park patron. "It hurts your heart."

Bright orange numbers mark plenty of dead trees in a west Houston neighborhood park. They will soon be cut down and removed. The pine trees could have survived the drought, but they could not survive the Southern Pine Beetle.

"Once the Southern Pine Beetle attacks the pine trees, there's no hope. They will die," said Joe Blanton the Arboretum Conservation Director.

At Memorial Park, an unbelievable amount of trees are now dead because of the drought. Three thousand trees have already died. Orange X marks show the trees that did not survive and will soon be removed.

CLICK: Monitor the state's drought level

The drought did the most damage, killing most of the dead trees at the park. Those that were left were a much easier target for insects.

"We're only removing a thousand trees that pose a hazard to our 5-mile trail," Blanton said. "We're leaving the others to fall on their own."

In the summer, southeast Texas was in an exceptional drought, the very worst category. The recent rain during the past few months has helped the area. Southeast Texas is now in a moderate to severe drought.