Pine trees can give any yard a rustic, homey vibe. That is, as long as they stay healthy. One serious disease that can affect pine trees is called pine wilt. If you have pines on your property, it's important that you know how to detect and deal with this parasitic condition.
What causes pine wilt?
Pine wilt is caused by a species of roundworm called Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. The worms are parasitic, meaning that they live on and feed on the pine tree. They're microscopic, so you won't see them with your naked eye – though you will see the symptoms that they cause. Most species of pines are susceptible to pine wilt, including Scots pines, white pines, red pines, and jack pines.
What are the symptoms of pine wilt?
When pine wilt sets in, the needles on various branches begin to change color from a vibrant green to gray, and then later tan or brown. The needles do not fall from the branch. If the needles are falling off your pine branches, your tree likely has another condition, such as needle blight, which is easily treatable if you have the infected branches removed and are careful to sweep up fallen needles.
What will happen to a tree with pine wilt?
More and more branches will be affected until, eventually, all of the branches have turned brown and died. This can take a few months or it may take several years, depending on the tree's overall health and size, but death of the tree is inevitable.
What should you do if you suspect your tree has this disease?
Contact a tree care expert in your area. They can take a sample of the wood and look at it under a microscope to verify that your tree's ailments are due to pine wilt. If your tree is, indeed, infested with the roundworms that cause pine wilt, your best bet is to have the tree removed sooner rather than later. This will help prevent the condition from spreading to other pines in the area.
How can you protect your pine tree from pine wilt?
To protect your pine tree, avoid bringing other pine wood onto your land, as it may contain the roundworms. Also, do what you can to keep your tree in good health overall, as strong, healthy trees are less likely to be targeted by the worms. Water the tree during times of drought, have it pruned regularly, and mulch around it to provide a source of nutrients as the mulch breaks down.
For more information about pine wilt or to find out if your tree has the disease, talk to a specialist like Green Shadow Tree Service LLC.