Predicting Southern Pine Beetle outbreaks

Forest Service scientists collaborated with State & Private Forestry and the National Forest System to produce a new predictive tool that helps managers anticipate and reduce beetle damage to southern pines.  

Predicting southern pine beetle outbreaksThe Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) is the most destructive insect in southeastern US pine forests.  Prevention is the best treatment to reduce forest damage caused by the beetles, and early detection is crucial for preventing SPB outbreaks.  However, monitoring resources are limited, so being able to focus specifically on the areas where beetle outbreak is most likely is important for early detection. A joint research project between the USFS Research and Development, State and Private Forestry,  and National Forest System in the southeastern US lead to the development of a highly accurate predictive model which correctly predicts new SPB outbreak areas with 72% accuracy as early as nine months in advance. The 2019 growing season was the first use of this new tool, which is being used to give forest managers an alert to watch for beetle outbreaks in high and moderate risk areas.  


Pictured: Prediction of Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) outbreak risk for 2019. USDA Forest Service.


Research Partners: USDA Forest Service State & Private Forestry, and USDA Forest Service National Forest System. 

External Partners/Collaborators: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Contact: Steven McNulty, Ecologist and Team Leader, Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center,

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