January 24, 2021

Art & Lifestyle:

What’s Killing Our Pine Trees in Southern MD

pine trees

The Cap’n

Message from the Cap’n is a compilation of fishing advice, waterman and weather insights, Chesapeake lore, and ordinary malarkey from the folks who keep their feet wet in the Potomac and St. Mary’s rivers.

Living on St. George island is great most of the time: great scenery, abundant wildlife, seafood, and not much traffic. Living here truly adds meaning to enjoying the “bounty” of the Chesapeake Bay. The downsides are few: high tides that cover the roads, a healthy mosquito population, and constant threat of erosion. If one can brave those threats, one lives in contentment within this community.

The landscape is constantly changing with our tree canopy changes being the most impressive. When I moved here in 1970 at Captain Edgar and Lainey Pearson’s old home place, the loblolly pines here were about four inches in diameter and twenty-some feet tall. Today, some are 30 inches in diameter and 50 to 60 feet tall. What few that are left!

The Southern Pine Beetle  is wrecking havoc in Southern Maryland and the lower Eastern Shore with our loblolly pines. Outbreaks are most prevalent after a hot, dry, period like the ones we have experienced over recent summers, including this past summer.

We have experienced three other outbreaks on St. George Island since I moved here in 1970. All in the past 15 years.

The Southern Pine Beetle’s range extends from New Jersey to Florida to Texas to Illinois, reports the US Forest Service. And they are simply hard to control, reports the entomology department at the University of Kentucky. Thinning of trees is one attempt to deter damage.

According to the two references above, the Southern Pine Beetle is 2 to 4 mm in length and is dark reddish brown to black in color.

Loblolly is a preferred host of the beetle, and tends to attack large mature stands of pine. SPB creates S-shaped galleries in the bark. While feeding it inoculates the tree with a blue stain fungus. Following a mass emergence of SPB a shotgun pattern will appear from a tree and rings of sawdust will encircle the base of the trees.

From the Interpretive Buoy System: The Lower Potomac water temperature is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and the salinity at 17.5 parts per unit. this week.

Remember It’s Our Bay, Let’s Pass it on

Till next time.

Cap’t Jack

To learn about tours and trips into the Chesapeake, keep in touch with Fins + Claws on Facebook . Catch up on Messages from the Cap’n Member Page. Please visit Cap’n Jack’s lore and share with your social media sites. Or reach him here at arster694@gmail.com; 240-434-1385.

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