Encinitas keeping an eye on bark beetles

The city of Encinitas is monitoring local parks for bark beetles, pests that can damage or even kill trees.

Bark beetles thrive during drought conditions and have killed millions of trees in California.

An initial city survey of local parks found bark beetles have infested two pine trees at Wiro Park in Olivenhain and another tree on public property near Village Park, according to Michael Stauffer, senior parks management analyst.

Stauffer last week said one possible solution to counter the pests is injecting a pesticide called TREE-Age into the trunks of the three afflicted trees.

“We care deeply about trees in this community, and anytime a tree shows signs of stress, we’ll identify the problem, monitor it and take a targeted approach,” Stauffer said.

Parks Supervisor Bob Keeley said the city will take action soon because there’s a risk of losing the three trees, and the city wants to stop the bark beetles from spreading.

Arborist Tim Clancy with Four Seasons Tree Care said he hasn’t seen any bark beetle-infested trees recently in Encinitas.

“Having said that, we’re mainly focused on commercial properties and HOAs,” Clancy said. He added that experienced landscape companies typically take care of trees at HOAs and businesses, so there’s less of a chance of seeing bark beetles on those properties.

Bark beetles attack trees weakened by drought, disease or other factors. They can contribute to the death of trees, though only a few aggressive species are known to be the sole cause of tree mortality, stated a recent city newsletter.

One sign of infestation is when needles quickly die and change color.

The best defense against bark beetles is to keep trees healthy, and they’ll naturally defend themselves by releasing sap that prevents beetles from laying eggs, according to the UC Statewide IPM program. So, residents should irrigate drought-stricken trees, diversify their landscapes, refrain from over-pruning and avoid injuring tree roots during construction.