Alabama Forestry Commission takes to the air to monitor tree-killing beetles

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Forestry Commission is keeping a close eye on a beetle that can cause serious damage to trees.

On Wednesday morning, CBS42 news reporter Matt Fernandez went up in the air with AFC pilot Phillip Montgomery and Warrior Work Unit manager Brad Lang looking for damage caused by the Southern Pine Beetle.

The team was on the lookout for signs of damage done by southern pine beetles, which are smaller than a grain of rice. Lang said that once a tree becomes stressed by things like wildfires or the drought, these Beetles will attack and kill the trees.

The WWU manager told CBS42 that you could tell the tree was damaged if the tree top is turning yellow, brown, yellow or lime greenish. Pine Beetles can do some serious damage.

“If you don’t get a logging crew in to get that damaged timber out, those southern pine beetles will keep eating and wipe out the entire stand,” Lang said. “It can do a lot of damage economically to your business as a tree farmer.”

In Hale County, we found damage.

“We have two spots, three spots, forming with some pine beetle damage,” Lang said as he observed the treeline. “It’s already killed some of the trees. You have discoloration in other trees, so it’s a pretty active spot, and it’s moving. It’s something we get to the land owner.”

Lang uses a tablet to document areas and report them to landowners.

“I hit submit and that spot now is on there,” Lang said. “It records the latitude and longitude, where you can find on the ground, and we will produce a map off that.”

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