Aerial Detection, Ground Evaluation, and Monitoring of the Southern Pine Beetle: State PerspectivesThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The southern pine beetle (SPB), is recognized as the most serious insect pest of southern pine forests. Outbreaks occur almost every year somewhere within its wide range, requiring intensive suppression efforts to minimize resource losses to Federal, State, and private forests. Effective management involves annual monitoring of SPB populations and aerial detection and ground evaluation of multiple-tree infestations during outbreaks. The 16 southern and northeastern States that face periodic SPB outbreaks have developed operational methods for detection and evaluation of new infestations and pending outbreaks of this destructive forest pest. Methods used by State forestry agencies for State and private forest lands often differ from those used on Federal forest lands and also vary significantly among States. This chapter describes the methodologies used by various States for conducting aerial detection flights and subsequent ground check evaluations for SPB. New technological developments, including geographical information systems, global positioning systems, digital sketchmapping systems, and coordinated Internet-based reporting systems, are being incorporated into traditional suppression operations to better manage this bark beetle pest. Also, a unique region-wide system for monitoring SPB populations and predicting infestation trends has been developed and implemented throughout the South. The first of its kind for any bark beetle species in the world, this system utilizes a network of pheromone traps deployed in early spring. Predictions of SPB activity to expect at the county, ranger district, and State level are made by comparing relative catches of SPB and those of a major SPB predator, the clerid Thanasimus dubius. Standardized monitoring, aerial detection, and ground evaluation protocols have become widely used by State forestry agencies and are considered essential components for the effective management of SPB.