Bark on Pine trees falling off? It may be the Ips beetle

There is a new bug in town, and he has a very unusual name: The Ips pine engraver beetle.

In eastern Washington, there has been bark beetles and pine beetles for years, and they have caused quite a bit of damage, but there has not been an epidemic level outbreak that has wiped out all trees over a large area, like has occurred in other states, like Colorado and Wyoming. In my travels just yesterday,  I inspected some trees that were very heavily infested with pine or bark beetle of some type. It is unusual to see signs of heavy infestation and damage this early in the year. In almost 30 years of inspecting trees for tree diseases and insects, I have never seen this level of activity this early in the season.

What this tells me is that we have a new bug in town, one whose habits and life cycle is a bit different. I believe it is the Ips beetle. They have been observed in Washington, but apparently not on a frequent basis. I don't know whether or not this will turn into a major event in the world of tree insects and diseases in our area of the country, but I am personally doing a lot of research and contacting other experts who specialize in the detection of  tree disease and insect infestations.
Fortunately, there are some measures the that can be take to protect your trees from being infested by this devastating insect. There are pheromone traps that be be placed strategically on your trees throughout your property to help prevent the beetles from entering your property, and there are also some chemical treatments that can be done on newly infested trees, that have not suffered to much damage. Apparently there is some debate on how effective these treatments are. From what I gather from talking to different people and reading many different sources of info on the subject, it is all about treating them very early in the infestation, as soon as symptoms show, which are: very small entry exit holes in the bark, then sap exuding from these holes, often with frass (fine sawdust) also coming out of the holes, which collects in the bark below the hole. Trees need to be inspected very closely, looking into the ridges of the bark as these holes can be difficult to see. Also, you may see bark falling off in advanced stages of infestation. In these cases, its too late to save the tree, You should just remove it (them)  and get it off your property. Burn wood if possible.