Pine Bark Beetles are small reddish to dark brown beetles about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch long. They are able to fly, reside in trees and can be found at many altitudes around the world. Though they prefer live trees, they can and will feed on freshly cut stands when available.

Pine bark beetles are the single most destructive pest which attacks pine trees. They are quick to reproduce, migrate and eat so once active on any one tree in a stand, it is important to start dealing with them immediately to minimize casualties. There are other species which will feed on a variety of hardwood trees but these tend to be slower at both reproducing and causing damage. Softwoods, like pine trees, tend to get damaged quicker and are able to provide harborage to more insects then hard woods over the same period of time.



Pine bark beetles are attracted to pine trees by smelling the trees sap. Though most trees will emit small amounts of sap naturally, trees which sustain injury due to man or nature are more likely to get beetle activity. Pruning at inappropriate times (like the summer), mechanical damage by construction crews cutting protective tree bark, lightning, drought, disease or insect damage like that which can occur from termites can all make a tree more susceptible to pine bark beetles. Once a flow of sap is more than normal, the odds that beetles will find the tree are increased.





A normal healthy tree will emit or release some sap that can attract beetles. When a tree is injured and sap runs freely and the odds that beetles find the tree are greatly increased. Once found, beetles will penetrate the bark and then begin excavating tunnels between the bark and the wood of the tree. These tunnels will serve as egg cavities. Eggs will be laid and when the larva hatch they will immediately begin to feed on the live part of the tree called the phloem and xylem. This feeding will lead them on a random journey which typically moves around the tree weakening it’s bark to the point of it falling off. Trees which have been severely damaged will shed their bark and appear naked; galleries and tunnels will be visible leaving a sure sign of what caused the damage.

Dead tree by bark beetle infestation.


Once the larva get their fill, they will undergo a metamorphosis during which time they change to adults. This third stage is called the pupa and when ready, they will hatch and emerge from the tree. Their emergence will leave a bunch of new holes through which the attractive scent of sap along with their natural pheromones will attract even more beetles. For this reason it is always wise to treat any tree which you suspect may have a small amount of activity.

In general, most healthy trees can withstand a beetle or two but if left alone, this initial activity will multiply to hundreds of beetles as new ones are attracted to exit holes.

At this point the survival of the tree will be jeopardy. More important are the adult beetles which emerge. Remember, they’re looking for new trees on which to land and start laying eggs. And though they typically target the most “active” trees, it only a matter of time before the infestation spreads.



In general, spraying pine trees you’d like protect once a year would be wise. This is especially true if you reside in region with known activity.

Once beetles are on your land and feeding on your trees, the scenario will change from “preventive” to “saving”.

Unfortunately saving trees with extensive activity may be near to impossible. That’s not to say you shouldn’t tree. But letting the beetles have one “untreated” tree or removing the infested tree is not a bad idea. Just remember that remaining trees will quickly become targets if left unprotected.

At that point you’ll need to make some decisions regarding how much “preventive” treating you want to do. The good news is spraying the bark once a year before you have activity can really help. Combine this with a use a systemic and you can help most any tree from predatory pests.



If you are in a region where pine bark beetles are active or if you have had some bad experience with them in the past, consider treating and protecting any tree you value. Such treatments should done at least once a year; once in the spring and once in the fall would be ideal.

By spraying the bark you can help to establish a protective barrier through which beetles cannot enter. Furthermore, CYPERMETHRIN is highly repellent to most any insect so they will definitely leave treated trees alone. Treatments to the bark will last 1-2 months and even trace amounts of the active will be detected helping to keep the tree insect free.

Mix it at the rate of 2 oz per gallon of water and expect to get up to 500 sq/ft of surface area protected per gallon of mixed spray. That means you should be able to get 5-10 average pine trees protected per gallon of mixed solution.

Viper Cypermethrin




For preventive treatments, focus on the bottom 10 feet of trunk. Any standard PUMP SPRAYER can be used to do the treatment. In general, you want to spray high first so that the material will run down the bark allowing you to maximize the area treated without spraying the same area over and over.







If you know you have beetles already active on the tree, add SPREADER STICKER to the tank mix. This product makes the mixture “spread” over treated surfaces enabling the Cypermethrin to get better coverage. In the long run you will be impacting much more of the tree when spreader sticker is included. It not only helps to cover the tree better but it allows the Cypermethrin to work that much faster. Beetles are naturally well protected from insecticides since they have thick shells. Spreader sticker helps get the insecticide “into” them much quicker.

Add 1 oz of Spreader Sticker per gallon of water along with the 2 oz of Cypermethrin when treating live beetle infestations.

Spreader Sticker






For trees with current activity, spray as high as possible. Pump sprayers will generally reach 10-15 feet which may not be enough. But if you have a garden hose with high water pressure, use a HOSE END SPRAYER to deliver the Cypermethrin and Spreader Sticker.






Another high reaching sprayer is the TROMBONE SPRAYER. Its completely portable too. All you need is a 5 gallon pail with a mixed solution and you can bring it afield to treat remote trees too far away from a garden hose.








Another option for treating light problems and the cracks and crevices of the bark is to inject some PT-CYKICK. This aerosol comes with a straw which can be inserted into small holes so that you can treat “into” the tree. The pressure of the can along with the aerosol sized particles which are released insures a thorough treatment. The use of this product will require less product and it will be distributed faster and more uniform.

Simply insert the thin straw, hold the can on for 5-10 seconds and you’re done. Any beetles in the hole will be dead and the Cykick will provide long lasting residual so new beetles can’t use the same hole again.








When a tree has been found with a lot of activity, you probably won’t be able to save it. The original thinking of handling such trees has been to remove the infested tree and then to burn it along with all the infesting beetles. However, this is not always so easy to do. One thing is for sure: If you have a tree infested with Pine Bark Beetles and there are other trees close by, you need to treat the other trees ASAP. This preventive application should be done with the Cypermethrin and careful inspections of these same trees should be done monthly as well until the infested tree can be removed or taken down.

There are other considerations regarding the infested tree. First, does it pose a threat to a home or wildlife should it unexpectedly fall? Trees that have been weakened by beetle damage will eventually crash to earth. Be sure the tree you have identified does not pose a direct hazard to nearby residents.

Second, can the tree which is infested be removed? If the answer is yes, you should consider treating if before the removal. Remember, the act of taking down the tree will stir up adults causing them to leave. This exodus will undoubtedly allow several of them to find a new home elsewhere basically infesting another tree. Avoid this problem by treating the tree being removed with Cykick or Cypermethrin along with a thorough treatment of any trees you want to protect.

Third, once removed, where will the dead tree be taken? Trees which have been treated prior to being taken down may have less active adults and larva but many will be active and thriving. As a general rule you don’t want to leave a fallen tree laying around which is infested with pine bark beetles. They will quickly start to leave and nearby trees will become immediate targets.

For this reason its important to have the tree taken away, mulched or burned immediately upon being cut. There have been too many cases of trees which look to be OK which turn out to have hundreds and thousands of adults leave it once cut down. These migrating adults are then able to relocate and start their infestations all over again.

Make sure you don’t let this happen by disposing of the tree completely. Burning works well and mulching the burned remains is okay. But the last thing you want to do is keep the logs laying around intended to become firewood for next winter. This would be a big mistake. Since adults and larva will start leaving this now dead and dehydrating lumber, you should never keep and store infested wood around the home. Get rid of it any way you can.



Something else to consider is the use of a good systemic. These are products you water into the ground around the trunk of the tree. Once injected, these products will be absorbed up into the tree and kill pests which attempt to feed on the treated tree. The best product for this is DOMINION 2 L. It can be sprayed on the tree too but it’s real strong point is when used as a systemic.

Though it will take a few weeks to make it’s way throughout the tree, annual treatments with Dominion can protect trees from most any insect infestation and help cure current problems. Remember, there is a huge range of insect pests which will target trees. And though one species may not be enough to kill it, a combined infestation can easily make a tree weak and cause it to succumb to the disease. For this reason protecting any tree you treasure with Dominion makes sense.

Use Dominion at the rate of 1 oz per 10″ trunk diameter. Mix it in 5 gallons of water and drench inside the tree’s drip line to insure good root absorption. Dominion only needs to be applied once a year and can really help “preserve” your trees overall good health.

Dominion 2L






Pine bark beetles can be a problem for homeowners and land owners all around the world. They strike quietly and their damage will quickly kill infected trees. If you are in a region where activity is high, inspect your trees every couple of months to try and identify if any get activity. Pine bark beetle control can be achieved if you treat with Cypermethrin once a quarter to help safeguard against infestations. Once active, you will need to first protect the trees surrounding the one with activity and then make some decisions regarding the infested tree which could include using a systemic like Merit WP. If you decide to try and save it, be sure to do thorough applications behind the bark which will help to kill off current activity thus helping to minimize damage. If the tree has to be removed, be sure to destroy all the wood properly so the present beetle population is not able to survive and relocate. Following these guidelines will help keep your trees both healthy and happy so they can continue to be an active part of your landscape.


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Comments on PINE BARK BORER BEETLE CONTROL Leave a Comment

February 17, 2012

Windy @ 2:01 am #

Client does not want to remove infested mulch from beds. Can it be controlled?

February 24, 2012

Carol @ 10:18 am #

I recently purchased log furniture and a few of the beetles have emerged from the wood I set off a insect bomb and am waiting to see if this will take care of the problem. Is there anything else you can suggest for this problem or will they die off since the wood is lacquered but it seems like they have bored inside the log post of the bed. Please reply.

March 13, 2012

Robbie @ 10:10 am #

Do the pine beetles also live in the dead needles on the ground? Wanting to use some straw for landscaping but, don’t want to invite a problem into my home.

April 14, 2012

Travis @ 2:54 pm #

I have a pine tree that was annihilated by these beetles… I still use the tree to attach targets to. What are the negative effects of leaving the tree in the ground opposed to cutting it down and treating the area? Will it attract any other nasties like termites?


April 16, 2012

Robin @ 1:27 pm #


We recently cut down several dead pines around our house and now we have tons of these little brown bugs all around the house and they are coming in the house. Can you send me a picture of this pine beetle so I can see if that is what we are dealing with?

Much appreciated, Robin

April 21, 2012

Bill @ 3:20 pm #

I have three trees infested but would like to save them. Would it be worthwhile to treat with both cypermethrin and merit or is there a better approach??

May 29, 2012

Mike @ 8:14 pm #

I have about a dozen Norwegian Pines that have browning needles and the browning is moving up the tree. The trees are losing all needles. What might be the cause, and cure or prevention?

Secondly, several of the pines have a boring beetle boring 3/16 to 1/4″ holes, evenly space around the trunk, and then moving down an equal distance, and repeating a second row of holes, then a 3rd, 4th, etc. etc. I could not drill a more uniform pattern intentionally. Help!!!!

July 7, 2012

David Pugh @ 9:52 am #

Thank you for this article. It has been very enlightening to read. I have several mature pine trees around my trailer home and I am concerned. One tree has fresh wood chips appearing at the base from red head wood-peckers. Does this mean the tree is infested with pine borers? David.

August 17, 2012

Lynn Phillips @ 7:43 am #

Due to a lightning strike I have had to remove 2 very large pine trees (2 ft. diameter) due to beatles. I now have two more that are infested to the point of needing removal. Would it be best to wait until cold weather to remove the trees or is it best to remove them ASAP. I am not sure if cold weather would help in the prevention of beatles spreading further.

sherrie lee @ 11:52 am #

We live in Idaho. We just cut down a tree infested with pine beetles. How long will it take for the beetles to move to another healthy tree? We have beautiful trees on our land and I really need to save the others.

September 30, 2012

Mrs Adams @ 3:27 pm #

We have noticed that we have a couple of pine trees that have been destroyed by the pine beetles and after reading the articles above I have a question. If we choose to use a spray will it harm the bees that we have on the property?

October 25, 2012

K @ 1:04 am #

I picked up a couple of tree trunk pieces from a yard where the tree had been cut down to use as props. I brought them home and placed them under my carport. A couple of weeks ago I heard a rhythmic chewing sound but could not find anything making the noise. Now the bark has begun to fall off and I saw tiny black ant like insects and larvae under the bark. I rolled it to the street and most of the bark fell off. I did not see any larvae in the exposed area after moving it. The bark has tiny holes in it too.
1) What should I do with the trunks?
2) Should I be concerned for my home?
3) Living in a rural area, trees are everywhere..should I make neighbors aware that the trunks had this problem? Thanks.

K @ 10:46 pm #


Thank you for taking time to respond!

October 26, 2012

Craig @ 2:04 pm #

How many ounces are required to treat the outside of a 1-2 ft diameter pine? Spraying approx 30′ up the trunk?

December 9, 2012

C Pryor @ 11:28 am #

I have just discovered that one of my young pine trees died from a pine borer and some other trees near it look to be infected. Can I treat the remaining trees now or should I wait until spring? Thanks.

December 31, 2012

A Robinson @ 1:58 am #

We have noticed this fall that we have lost quite a few trees to some sort of borer this fall on our property. We are talking about 20-30 trees so far. We did some cutting this spring and unfortunately did not know this could happen. We are planning to cut down all of the dead or infected trees now but wonder if we need to take any other action?

February 9, 2013

Kim @ 8:54 am #

A family member just recently built a house (September – October of 2012) in an area where bark beetles had been doing a great deal of damage (in close proximity to a pine tree forest) in Wisconsin. One of the main supporting beams in their home is a large kiln-dried white pine tree trunk (approximately 24″ in diameter) which had been de-barked prior to drying. It is weight-bearing and supports the roof and much of the second floor. We recently noticed some fine sawdust like material on and around the beam and heard a scratching sound near one of the knots in the wood. We are concerned that bark beetles may have intruded the wood when it was brought from the kiln-drier to the construction site but prior to installation in the house. Removing the beam is not a practical option. What do you recommend for treating what we suspect are powderpost beetles? Any direction or guidance you can give would be greatly appreciated.

July 16, 2016

chris @ 4:03 pm #

Pine borers are a big problem. I have noticed several dead pine trees in our area so I looked at them closer and noticed holes in the trees and black insects flying around. What can I do?

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