Home / True Weevils (Curculionidae) / Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis)

Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis)

Southern pine beetle, a bark beetle species, occupies the forest areas of the southern parts of the United States, Central America, and Mexico. They mostly dwell in the pine tree’s inner bark; that is how it has attained its name.

Southern Pine Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Curculionidae
  • Genus: Dendroctonus
  • Scientific name: Dendroctonus frontali

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 2 – 4 mm (0.07 – 0.15 inches)

Color: Their hard exoskeleton has a reddish-brown or black coloration.

Other Characteristic Features: Some of their prominent physical features include a cylindrical body, round legs, and a short abdomen. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism. The males have an indented pattern on the front part of their head, absent in the females. On the other hand, the female species have a raised transverse ridge with increased width.

Dendroctonus frontalis

Larva

They have a white crescent-shaped body and a caramel head. Initially, they have a length of 2 mm (0.07 inches) that eventually increases to 7 mm (0.27 inches) as they grow. When they reach the fourth and last instar stage, the grubs create cells within the trees’ barks where they can stay during the pupal phase.

Southern Pine Beetle Larvae

Pupa

They are of a similar size and color as the adults, and the pupal phase lasts for 5 to 17 days. At the end of this stage, the callow or immature adults appear yellowish-white, ad gradually attain their actual color.

Southern Pine Beetle Pupa

Egg

They are round or oval with a pearly white body mostly spotted in galleries within the pine tree’s inner bark.

Quick Facts

Adult Lifespan6 – 14 days
Larval stage duration7 – 13 days
DistributionSoutheastern parts of the United States covering the states of Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, and Florida, alongside Central America, and Mexico
HabitatIn the forest areas near pine trees
Common PredatorsMites, and insects
Seasons active fromMarch – July
Host PlantsUnited States: Loblolly pine, shortleaf pine, slash pine, Virginia pine, pitch pine, longleaf pine, pond pine, hickory pine, Apache pine, yellow pine
Central America: Caribbean pine, thinleaf pine, ocote chino
Diet  of larvae and adultsPhloem tissues beneath the barks of their host plants
Southern Pine Beetle Pictures

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They mostly attack the pines that have been stressed or weakened by winds, drought, or storms. The adults mostly attack the middle or lower trunks of the pine trees, destroying them while feeding upon the phloem. The galleries within the bark are S-shaped, responsible for wearing the tree down and resulting in its death.

Did You Know

  • The southern pine beetle species is responsible for the heavy financial losses to southeastern United States’ forest industry. Between 1960 and 1990, it has caused net damage of about $900 million.

Image Source: barkbeetles.org, ipmsouth.files.wordpress.com, barkbeetles.org, bugguide.net

Southern pine beetle, a bark beetle species, occupies the forest areas of the southern parts of the United States, Central America, and Mexico. They mostly dwell in the pine tree’s inner bark; that is how it has attained its name.

Southern Pine Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 2 – 4 mm (0.07 – 0.15 inches)

Color: Their hard exoskeleton has a reddish-brown or black coloration.

Other Characteristic Features: Some of their prominent physical features include a cylindrical body, round legs, and a short abdomen. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism. The males have an indented pattern on the front part of their head, absent in the females. On the other hand, the female species have a raised transverse ridge with increased width.

Dendroctonus frontalis

Larva

They have a white crescent-shaped body and a caramel head. Initially, they have a length of 2 mm (0.07 inches) that eventually increases to 7 mm (0.27 inches) as they grow. When they reach the fourth and last instar stage, the grubs create cells within the trees’ barks where they can stay during the pupal phase.

Southern Pine Beetle Larvae

Pupa

They are of a similar size and color as the adults, and the pupal phase lasts for 5 to 17 days. At the end of this stage, the callow or immature adults appear yellowish-white, ad gradually attain their actual color.

Southern Pine Beetle Pupa

Egg

They are round or oval with a pearly white body mostly spotted in galleries within the pine tree’s inner bark.

Quick Facts

Adult Lifespan6 – 14 days
Larval stage duration7 – 13 days
DistributionSoutheastern parts of the United States covering the states of Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, and Florida, alongside Central America, and Mexico
HabitatIn the forest areas near pine trees
Common PredatorsMites, and insects
Seasons active fromMarch – July
Host PlantsUnited States: Loblolly pine, shortleaf pine, slash pine, Virginia pine, pitch pine, longleaf pine, pond pine, hickory pine, Apache pine, yellow pine
Central America: Caribbean pine, thinleaf pine, ocote chino
Diet  of larvae and adultsPhloem tissues beneath the barks of their host plants
Southern Pine Beetle Pictures

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They mostly attack the pines that have been stressed or weakened by winds, drought, or storms. The adults mostly attack the middle or lower trunks of the pine trees, destroying them while feeding upon the phloem. The galleries within the bark are S-shaped, responsible for wearing the tree down and resulting in its death.

Did You Know

  • The southern pine beetle species is responsible for the heavy financial losses to southeastern United States’ forest industry. Between 1960 and 1990, it has caused net damage of about $900 million.

Image Source: barkbeetles.org, ipmsouth.files.wordpress.com, barkbeetles.org, bugguide.net

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