Why are thousands of acres of pine trees in the southern Black Hills losing their needles?

By Joey Kragness
News Center 1
August 24, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

RAPID CITY, S.D. – About two weeks ago, a member of the public called in to the United States Forest Service about pine trees that were losing their needles. …The insect is known as a Pine Looper, which is a pine defoliator. Pine loopers are native to the Black Hills and have been here for many years. …In this case, it is estimated that 7,000 acres in the southern Black Hills have shown some signs of defoliation. …The good news is that pine loopers have a relatively short lifespan, with the caterpillar stage only lasting 1-2 months. Pine looper infestations also typically last 1-2 years. Kendra Schotzko, an entomologist with the USFS, said, “Consuming the needles does not necessarily kill the trees, if the tree health prior to defoliation, it can actually re-foliate. We anticipate seeing a re-flush of needles, for the trees that have the resources to do so, in the next growing season.”

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