LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's been two weeks since traps were put out all over the Pineywoods to detect the arrival of the invasive southern pine beetle and the early results are making foresters happy.
"We've caught no southern pine beetle, and that's the goal," Invasive species specialist Mike Murphrey said. We don't really care to. We have caught quiet a few other species. I don't have the official count right now. We are still in the count phase."
According to Murphrey, prolonged droughts, especially during the growing season, historically have been associated with outbreaks of engraver beetles in North America. Murphrey said the older pine trees in the region are the ones that could be effected the most.
"It is worst then most fire problems we have in the south when it gets into an epidemic proportion," Murphrey said. "It is a very scattered bark beetle scattered all across the southern United States."
With nearly 12 million acres of commercial timber that produces 130,600 jobs with $7.9 billion in revenue, it is important for foresters to be able to predict how the beetle will move each year.
"If they spot a bark beetle on their property, they need to call their local forester or a consulting forester," Murphrey said."
Murphrey and his team will be monitoring traps they have set up in 11 counties across the region.
"Every other week we will come back to the traps and collect the samples," Murphrey said. "We will go out to the site and look at what they have, and then we will make a determination if it is southern pine beetle, if it warrants harvesting. Harvesting tends to be the best tool, because you can get out front and stop the spread of the beetle."