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FS Shield
2002 Forest Insect and Disease
Conditions for the Southern Region

Note: bold hypertext links within the narratives (e.g., Dogwood Anthracnose) will take visitors to the on-line publication, The Health of Southern Forests that displays additional graphics and discusses the biology and southern history of the causal agent in more detail. Not all causal agents are linked. Non-bolded links provide for within-document navigation.

Most Significant Conditions in Brief

The drought that has plagued the Southern Region for nearly five years ended in the autumn of 2002. Water tables and reservoir levels are rapidly approaching historical norms, and foresters and pest management specialists anticipate an improvement in drought-related conditions.  Nevertheless, because of the lateness of the rains relative to the growing season, drought-related damage in 2002 was still severe throughout much of the area. By the summer, conditions associated with drought stress such as Ips engraver beetles, black turpentine beetles, and Hypoxylon canker were again profound throughout much of the Appalachian Mountain and Piedmont regions of Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas. In hardwood forests, the most evident example of the drought was oak decline syndrome, with many hillsides in the Appalachians displaying large patches of mortality, especially on south-facing and shallow soils.  In northern Arkansas and extreme NE Oklahoma, mortality and decline of red oaks continued over thousands of acres for the fourth year.

Losses to southern pine beetle were again very high in the Region.  South Carolina endured a record setting outbreak with 33,555 infestations statewide.  Georgia, the Carolinas, and Mississippi also experienced significant population increases.  Kentucky and Florida reported reduced SPB activity in 2002.  Infestations remained absent from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Defoliation by gypsy moth declined slightly in Virginia in 2002, due in large part to a combination of natural factors.  There were over 100,000 acres of low level populations treated in Virginia to slow the spread of the moth.  Localized eradication efforts for spot infestations continued in North Carolina and Tennessee.

Land managers continue to voice concern over other introduced pests such as hemlock woolly adelgid that was detected in seven new North Carolina counties in 2002 as well as initial finds in Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia.  Unusual outbreaks of giant bark aphids in Louisiana and Texas, and grasshoppers in Oklahoma, produced fairly widespread areas of oak defoliation.

An assortment of stressors other than insects and diseases (e.g., beavers, tornadoes, and frost damage) took a noteworthy toll on the South’s forests in 2002. Oklahoma reported concern over the rapid expansion of native eastern red cedar populations into prairies and rangeland as a result of fire exclusion and other land use changes.

Status of Forest Insects

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Baldcypress Leafroller,
Archips goyerana

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Region 8: Louisiana

Hosts: Baldcypress

In 2002, 153,000 acres of mixed baldcypress stands in southern and southeastern Louisiana were defoliated by the baldcypress leafroller. Approximately 56,000 acres were severely defoliated (>50%). The primary impact of this defoliation is loss of radial growth, although dieback and scattered mortality occurred in some areas in Assumption, St. James and St. Martin Parishes. Permanently flooded areas are most severely impacted.

Black turpentine beetle,
Dendroctonus terebrans

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Loblolly pine, longleaf pine, slash pine, shortleaf pine

Much like pine engraver beetles, the black turpentine beetle (BTB) prefers to attack stressed, weakened trees.  Stands stressed both by drought and by logging injury, compacted soil, and wildfire are especially vulnerable. When populations of turpentine beetles increase significantly in damaged stands, they are capable of achieving primary pest status (i.e., successfully attacking trees with no overt damage or evident susceptibility).

Because of the drought, there was a high incidence of BTB activity in 2002, especially in parts of the extreme Southeast. Tennessee reported high populations in both western and eastern areas, especially in the southern portion of the Appalachian Mountains. BTB activity increased slightly in Mississippi, while in Texas activity remained low.

Buck moth,
Hemileuca maia

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Region 8: Louisiana and Virginia

Hosts: Live oak and other hardwoods.

Buck moth defoliation of live oak has been a problem in New Orleans for several years. The moth continues to be locally abundant in the city and of particular concern in the Federal Historic Districts. The insect population was found to be decreasing in 2002; pheromone trapping recovered only 0.9 moths/trap in 2002 as compared to 1.3 in 2001.

Fall cankerworm,
Alsophila pometeria

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Region 8: Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia

Hosts: Various oak species

Populations were low in 2002, and no significant damage was reported.

Forest tent caterpillar,
Malacosoma disstria

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Region 8: Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas

Hosts: Tupelo gum, upland hardwoods

Defoliation of tupelo gum occurred on 153,000 acres of forested wetlands (baldcypress/water tupelo forest type) in Ascension, Livingston, St. James and St. John Parishes in southeastern Louisiana.  This defoliation was severe (50%) on 32,000 acres. This represents a slight increase in total defoliated acres from 2001, but the most severely defoliated acres remained nearly the same.

In Texas, an unusual outbreak covered about 125,000 acres in the lower Trinity, Neches, and Sabine River bottoms in April of 2002.  Hosts were primarily sweetgum and oaks.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission reported forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) defoliation of about 30,000 acres in the Santee, Pee Dee, and WacamawRiver basins. Pure stands of gum suffered the worst defoliation, with up to 100% of foliage lost.  Other bottomland hardwood species were also affected with some showing 50% or more of leaves eaten by the caterpillars.

North Carolina again noted that 50,000 acres were defoliated in the RoanokeRiver basin.  However, because of early season defoliation, the trees were able to re-leaf, and little mortality was recorded.

Giant bark aphids,
Longistigma caryae

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Region 8: Louisiana,Texas

Hosts: Oaks

The outbreak of giant bark aphids that began in late 2001 across most of eastern Texas continued in to 2002. Populations also increased to noticeable levels in western and central Louisiana. Infestations were particularly severe in Rapides Parish, with individual trees having large numbers of aphids. The presence of aphids appeared to peak from late January through early February. This aphid is known to occur in the eastern half of the U.S. and it is the largest aphid in North America. The aphids are primarily feeding on oak trees and seem to favor water and live oaks. Aphids suck plant juices and excrete large quantities of honeydew, a clear, sticky, sugary liquid. An unsightly gray-black sooty mold often grows on the honeydew. Even when large numbers of aphids are present, their feeding is not expected to cause serious harm to the trees.

Various spp.

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Region 8: Oklahoma

Hosts: Oaks, other hardwoods

Large areas of post oak-blackjack oak forest were completely defoliated in central Oklahoma in 2002.  Damage was most noticeable in late summer/early fall.  An estimated 15,000 acres was affected.

Juniper budworm,
Cudonigera houstonana

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Region 8: Texas

Hosts: Ashe juniper

An unusual outbreak of juniper budworm defoliated Ashe juniper trees in Central Texas in April of 2002. Parts of Travis, Hays, Comal, and Blanco counties were affected. Actual damage to the trees was relatively minor.

Locust leafminer,
Odontata dorsalis

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Region 8: Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia

Host: Black locust

The locust leafminer has been especially active this summer, with damage becoming evident earlier than usual. Discoloration is most obvious in the Appalachians, with the Blue Ridge Parkway being especially hard hit. This has prompted many public inquiries to the Park Service, Forest Service, and state forestry agencies. The Tennessee Division of Forestry reported a high incidence of locust leaf miner damage in middle and eastern Tennessee. While damage is normally of little consequence except for its aesthetic effect, very heavy infestations during drought periods can contribute to reduction in tree vigor.

Nantucket pine tip moth,
Rhyacionia frustrana

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Loblolly pine, shortleaf pine

Tip moth problems were noted in South Carolina, especially in old-field plantations. One 8-year old 400-acre plantation displayed nearly 100% infestation. Plantations in the North Carolina Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont experienced moderate, routine infestations.

In Northeast Tennessee, the number of tip moth generations extended to four for the second consecutive year due to the hot dry August and September and a mild, rainy fall. Infestations also increased in middle and eastern Tennessee with up to 60% of 1-3 year-old shortleaf and loblolly seedlings damaged.  Western Tennessee populations remained steady relative to 2001. Mississippi experienced tip moth damage on some large tracts (>450 acres) in LafayetteCounty. Infestation levels in Texas decreased in 2002.

Oak leaf tier,
Croesia semipurpurana

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Region 8: Florida, Tennessee

Hosts: various oak species

No significant occurrences were reported in 2002.

Pine colaspis beetle,
Colaspis pini

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Southern pines

As in 2001, this beetle caused localized defoliation to pine plantations in central Louisiana, particularly in eastern Rapides Parish. Sporadic infestations were reported from other areas of central and western Louisiana and eastern Texas.  No significant damage occurred, but defoliation is unsightly, causing landowner concerns.

Pine engraver beetle,
Ips calligraphus, I. grandicollis, I. Avulses

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Loblolly pine, shortleaf pine, slash pine

All three common species of pine engraver beetles (Ipssp.) were very active in dry areas of the South.  While normally acting as secondary pests attacking weakened trees, these insects are capable of reaching more aggressive primary pest status when large areas of hosts are stressed (as by the recent drought).  South Carolina reported a large number of mixed SPB-Ips spots in the Coastal Plain.  South Carolina also reported a high incidence of pine engraver beetles in unthinned plantations in the Sand Hills region.

Florida recorded scattered Ips-caused mortality in pines stressed by a variety of factors.  Especially noteworthy was damage along power line rights-of-way where fusiform rust-infected slash pines had been removed. A very slight increase in engraver beetle activity was reported in Mississippi, while activity in Arkansas and Texas was widespread but low.  Ips damage increased in southeastern Oklahoma.  Most reports were of single or scattered tree mortality, but one landowner reported infestations up to 40 acres in size.

Pine sawflies,
Neodiprionsp., Diprion sp.

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Region 8: Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee,Texas, and Virginia

Hosts: Southern pines

Pine sawfly activity in southern Arkansas was low, and reported damage was very light. Defoliation declined to very low background levels in Louisiana, with only widely scattered occurrences reported.

Virginia reported scattered sawfly larval defoliation of loblolly pine in the Coastal Plain and nearly total defoliation of white pine stands in the central Appalachian Mountains by Diprion similis.  Kentucky pheromone trapping surveys also recorded a high incidence of this species in the southeastern section of the state. Further evaluations are pending.

In Florida, several hundred acres (including one infestation of about 470 acres less than 5 years old) were defoliated by the redheaded pine sawfly (Neodiprion lecontei) in the Okeechobee District in the summer and fall of 2002. Minor, isolated infestations also occurred in Polk and Orange counties.

In Tennessee, the loblolly pine sawfly (Diprion taedae linearis) defoliated over 50% of loblolly pines in northern and middle Tennessee. Some trees incurred repeated defoliation.  Redheaded pine sawfly was also active in middle and eastern Tennessee.  The introduced pine sawfly (Diprion similis) was locally severe in middle Tennessee.

Red oak borer,
Enaphalodes rufulus

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Region 8: Arkansas, Oklahoma,South Carolina, and Georgia

Hosts: Northern red oak, black oak

Red oak borer attacks continued at extremely high levels in 2002 in north central Arkansas in association with oak decline initiated by recent severe drought. Populations are at unprecedented levels. Damage contributed to drought-related mortality in red oaks, and degrade in lumber from attacked trees sharply reduced product values. Mortality, especially in red oaks, is high, and there is serious concern about the impact on oak forests statewide. Red oak borer adults emerged in 2001, and with a two-year life cycle will infest trees until re-emerging in 2003. Drought stress abated in Arkansas in 2002, but the borer and oak decline activity continued. Red oak borer populations are noticeable in the Ozark Plateau region of Northeast Oklahoma as well and mortality is common, particularly in red oak species. Attacks were also noted to be at high levels in bottomland oaks in green tree reservoirs in Arkansas, where extended flooding causes stress.

In central Louisiana, red oak borer activity was noted in conjunction with oak decline in bottomland hardwoods. In North Carolina, red oak borer activity was accelerated by drought conditions. The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources reported increased numbers of inquiries from landowners and shade tree owners, especially in the Piedmont.

Reproduction weevils,
Hylobius pales, Pachylobius picivorous

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Region 8:Regionwide

Hosts: Southern pines

Sporadic damage was reported in Mississippi in 2002. In the Carolinas. Damage generally remained light to moderate throughout, with only limited and scattered heavy infestations. Weevil activity remained low in Texas during 2002.

Southern pine beetle,
Dendroctonus frontalis

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Loblolly pine, shortleaf pine, slash pine, longleaf pine, Virginia pine, eastern white pine

Southern pine beetle (SPB) population remained very high in 2002, but the activity shifted south and west (map showing counties in southern pine beetle outbreak status). South Carolina set new all time highs for numbers of SPB infestations and activity was also intense in north Georgia and portions of Mississippi.  The high levels of beetle activity in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida subsided.

Table 1. Southern Pine Beetle Infestations by State 2001 versus 2002






11,945 5,053 -57.70


0 0


2,892 650 -77.52


2,604 9,708 272.81


3,513 18 -99.49


0 0


137 701 411.68

N. Carolina

3,860 4,533 17.44


0 0

S. Carolina

22,149 33,555 51.50


12,766 6,639 -47.99


0 0


762 232 -69.55


60,628 61,089 0.76


South Carolina reported 25 outbreak counties in the primarily in the central to western section of the state.  In 2002, there were over $250 million lost to SPB infestations, surpassing the previous high of 1995 and $107 million lost.  In Spartanburg County the beetles killed as much timber as is usually harvested in 3 years.  Although activity slowed toward the fall it is anticipated to continue into 2003.

North Carolina reported a doubling of the number of counties reporting SPB activity in 2002 versus 2001 (62 versus 31) and an increase in the number of outbreak counties from 22 to 27. Overall, the number of SPB infestations in North Carolina increased 4% over 2001, from 3,871 to 4,533.

In Georgia, SPB continued as the top forest pest in the State with 9,708 spots reported; 44 counties were classified in outbreak status. Especially noteworthy was the wildland/urban interface, which saw a great deal of SPB activity in and around Georgia’s rapidly expanding cities and towns.  Very poor wood and fiber markets hampered salvage efforts.

SPB populations expanded rapidly on the Homochitto and BienvilleNational Forests in Mississippi.  Many large infestations occurred.  However on state private lands only limited activity (100 spots) was reported.

Virginia saw SPB activity in 17 counties, three of which were classified as epidemic.  Tennessee reported 58 counties with SPB activity, over 77% of which were epidemic.  However, as the summer passed, activity decreased significantly.

Kentucky saw a dramatic drop in SPB activity from 2001 levels, in large part due to host depletion in the eastern part of the state. Only 18 areas of minor activity remain in south-central Kentucky.

Florida received a welcome respite from the intense SPB losses of 2000 and 2001.  By the end of 2002, there were 77.5% fewer infestations than in 2001 (a total of 650 spots in contrast to 2,892 in 2001). Entomologists credit several possible factors, including increased rainfall, increases in predators and parasites, and depletion of host type.

Alabama remained a hot spot for beetle activity in 2002, the state’s fourth straight year for epidemic populations, although activity is decreasing.  Statewide, 5,053 spots were detected, with 39 counties considered epidemic.  This is a further reduction from the record-setting year 2000 when 26,407 spots were reported. 

In western Gulf States, beetle populations remained low. No spots were detected in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma or Texas

Texas leaf-cutting ant,
Atta texana

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Region 8: Louisiana, Texas

Hosts: Southern pines and hardwoods

In 2002, localized defoliation of pine plantations occurred in east Texas and west central Louisiana on sites with deep sandy soil. Populations of these ants remain fairly static from year to year.

Truncated true katydid,
Paracryptophyllus robustus

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Region 8: Texas

Host: Post oak

No significant defoliations by this insect were reported in 2002.

Variable oak leaf caterpillar,
Lochmaeus manteo

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Region 8: Florida

Hosts: oak

No significant damage was reported in 2002.

Yellow poplar weevil,
Odontopus calceatus

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Region 8: Tennessee

Host: Yellow poplar

Yellow poplar weevil populations were heavier than normal in Tennessee north and west of Knoxville and in the Cumberland Plateau. The late May generation caused widespread leaf browning over 20,000 acres. 

Insects: Nonnative

Ambrosia beetles,
Xyleborus similis, Xylosandrus mutilatus

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Region 8: Florida, Mississippi, and Texas

Hosts: Pines or hardwoods

As part of a southwide survey effort in 2000-2002, a number of native and exotic ambrosia beetles have been trapped.  Among these were new records of exotic beetles in Florida and Mississippi (Xylosandrus mutilatus) and Texas (Xyleborus similis).

Asian longhorned beetle,
Anoplophora glabripennis

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Region 8: Texas

Hosts: Hardwoods

No occurrences of this pest were reported in the region in 2002.

Balsam woolly adelgid,
Adelges picea

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Region 8: North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia

Host: Fraser fir

Fraser fir has a very limited range in the southern Appalachian Mountains and appears almost exclusively in pure stands on the highest mountain peaks or in combination with red spruce at somewhat lower elevations (map showing spruce/fir distribution).  Since the introduction of the balsam woolly adelgid, approximately 64,700 acres of Fraser fir have been affected.  The insect attacks all age classes, but prefers older trees. The summer 2002 witnessed high populations in all infested areas.  However, there is an abundance of uninfested or lightly infested regeneration in most areas. Many observers believe this portends well for the future, but in fact, these trees will almost certainly become heavily infested as they mature.

Gypsy moth (European),
Lymantria dispar

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Region 8: Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia

Hosts: Hardwoods, especially oak species

In 2002, aerial surveys detected 51,845 acres of defoliation by gypsy moth in Virginia a significant decrease from 2001 (map showing gypsy moth defoliation area).  Populations were highly variable due in part to a late spring freeze, continued drought, the effects of larval disease and continued suppression program. Although large-area defoliation was confined to the western mountains, small pockets of defoliation increased in number and extent across the Piedmont and Costal Plain.  Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) conducted suppression activities on approximately 65,000 acres in 2002.

In 2002, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service, carried out an eradication project for Gypsy Moth in western North Carolina.  Delimiting trapping grids were placed around four areas that had high moth captures in 2001 in Jackson, Clay, McDowell and ScotlandCounties.  A total of 60 moths were detected. 

The Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Project (STS) conducted aerial treatments in seven states.  In the Southern Region, STS treatments took place in Virginia and North Carolina.  In conjunction with the recent outbreaks in the generally infested areas of VA, STS project personnel detected and delineated a record high number of isolated infestations in the STS zone during 2000 and 2001.  These infestations were subsequently treated in 2002 (see table 1).  More than 90% of the treatment acreage was accomplished using mating disruption - a tactic that is specific to the gypsy moth.

Despite the fact that spread rates increased during the outbreak years, the rate of spread still averages less than 4 miles per year since 1992, when management was first implemented to reduce spread rates.  This is well below the unrestricted rate of 13 miles of spread per year that was documented prior to management. 

Table 2.  Acres treated in the Southern Region as part of the STS project during 2002

Ownership State
Acres of Treatment in 2002
Mating Disruption
Total acres treatment
Private NC 5,080 0 3,320 8,400
Private VA 0 3,938 120,490 124,428
VA 0 0 3,200 3,200
VA 0 0 34,000 34,000
VA 0 0 2,100 2,100
Total acres 5,080 3,938 129,110 138,128


In 2002, Tennessee caught a total of 1,630 moths in 18 counties.  This total reflects a decrease in the number of moths caught in comparison to 2001 (6,798 moths).  Five areas are currently infested in the state as of September 2002.  Eradication activities were conducted on 7,930 acres in CampbellCounty.  In 2002, moths were caught in MonroeCounty and WilsonCounty.  Ground treatments and mass trapping are planned in these counties in 2003.  Ground treatments in 2002 in ScottCounty were successful and no treatments are planned in 2003.  Sevier County had zero moths for the first year (1 in 2001).  Cumberland County had no moth catches for the second year.  Follow-up trapping will continue in Monroe and Scott counties where ground treatments were conducted in 2002. 

In 2002, Georgia set approximately 6,000 traps. Three moths were caught in the Atlanta area. No treatments are planned for 2003.  Detection trapping in Arkansas revealed no new infestations, only the occasional “hitchhiker” trap catch.  No treatments are planned. 

The Slow the Spread Project (STS) conducted aerial treatments in seven states.  In the southern region, STS treatments are planned for Virginia and North Carolina.  In conjunction with the recent outbreaks in the generally infested areas of VA, STS project personnel detected and delineated a record high number of isolated infestations in the STS zone during 2000 and 2001.  These infestations were subsequently treated in 2002 (see table 1).  More than 90% of the treatment acreage was accomplished using mating disruption - a tactic that is specific to the gypsy moth.

Hemlock woolly adelgid,
Adelges tsugae

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Region 8: North Carolina and Virginia

Hosts: Eastern and Carolina hemlock

Mortality in the Southeast caused by the hemlock woolly adelgid was aggravated by the extended drought that further stresses infested trees. The insect continued to spread south and west, with North Carolina reporting seven new counties infested in 2002. To date, adelgid infestations are confirmed in 45 Virginia counties, 24 in North Carolina, 3 in Tennessee, and one each in Georgia and South Carolina (map showing hemlock woolly adelgid occurrence by county).

Because of the strong influence of spring northward-migrating songbirds in spreading this insect, the entire range of Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) is at risk, and this species could be extirpated from the wild. Eastern hemlock (T. canadensis), an important riparian and middle-elevation wildlife habitat component, is also at risk of extirpation throughout the Southern Appalachians.

Pink hibiscus mealybug,
Maconellicoccus hirsutus

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Region 8: Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and Florida

Hosts: Hibiscus and many other species

The pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM) is a serious pest of over 200 plant species, andis known to occur on more than 20 Caribbean Islands. It was detected in Puerto Rico in 1997, but to date no infestations have been identified on the CaribbeanNational Forest.  Frequent monitoring surveys are conducted, assisted by the USDA Forest Service. It appears that parasitoids were introduced simultaneously with the mealybug, reducing the impacts in Puerto Rico. With support from the USDA Forest Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture continues to rear and release two species of parasitic wasps to combat the PHM. Surveys indicate population reductions of 85-90 percent have been achieved at the parasitoid release sites.

An infestation was detected in Miramar County, Florida in June 2002. By mid-July, it had spread to Broward and Miami-Dade Counties and encompassed 22 square miles.  The USDA and the Florida Division of Plant Industry initiated weekly releases of parasitoids in the infested areas. Because of the large number of known host species in Florida, extension agents continue to carefully monitor for this pest. Timely biological control should reduce impacts and retard spread.

Status of Forest Diseases

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Annosum root disease,
Heterobasidion annosum

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Region 8: Regionwide (map showing annosus hazard rating)

Hosts: Southern pines

A South Carolina Forestry Commission survey showed that annosum root disease has been increasing in severity and occurrence for several years. Losses averaged 2 cords per acre. A total of 31 counties had some level of apparent annosum-caused loss. Total acreage affected was 53,850, and direct loss was placed at $1.94 million.

In Florida, annosum root disease is a serious occasional problem in pine plantations. The disease has necessitated the premature harvesting of several infected plantations, including at least one CRP plantation. The disease is expected to be increasingly problematic as thinnings and other partial harvests are scheduled. In Georgia, annosum root disease remains problematic throughout the state on high hazard sites, especially in older Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) plantations that have been thinned.

One industrial forest landowner in Alabama reported severe losses from annosum root disease in thinned 20- to 30-year-old loblolly pine plantations. A federal installation in Mississippi also reported some suspected root disease that was causing growth loss and mortality. An evaluation of this area is planned for 2003.

Fusiform rust,
Cronartium quercuum f. sp. Fusiforme

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Southern pines, especially loblolly and slash pines

Fusiform rust continues to be the most significant disease of loblolly and slash pine in the South, although there were no survey reports generated this summer.  Anecdotal reports suggest that the incidence of main stem infection is decreasing, and that the disease is becoming more confined to branches where the impact is minimized. The ResistanceScreeningCenter in Asheville continues to screen seed lots for fusiform rust resistance.

Littleleaf disease,
Phytophthora cinnamomi

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Region 8: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky

Hosts: Loblolly and shortleaf pines

Littleleaf disease continues to cause growth loss and mortality across the Piedmont areas of the affected states. Shortleaf pine is highly susceptible while loblolly pine is affected, but at a later age. Many of the stands that were converted from shortleaf to loblolly to reduce the impact of this disease are now reaching the age of susceptibility. Bark beetles often attack these stands once they have been weakened by the root infection.

Some moderation of littleleaf symptoms over time has been reported. It is believed that root penetration of soil hardpans and gradual increases in soil porosity due to increasing biological activity on severely eroded sites will gradually reduce the impact of this disease over a period of a century or more.

Hypoxylon canker,
Hypoxylon spp.

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Oaks

This summer has seen a large number of reports of hypoxylon canker (caused by Hypoxylon spp.) on oaks and other species in the South, especially in the Appalachian Mountains. Damage seems most severe on south-facing slopes and on shallow, rocky sites stressed by drought. Hypoxylon canker often proliferates under conditions that stress its hosts. The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources reports not only a much higher incidence of the disease on forest trees, but on shade trees as well.

Oak wilt,
Ceratocystis fagacearum

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Region 8: North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia

Hosts: Live and red oaks

Oak wilt continues to be a devastating tree killer in 66 central Texas counties. Urban, suburban and rural oaks are affected. Live oak is a premier shade tree species in the region and is highly valued for beauty, shade and wildlife benefits. The Texas Forest Service completed the fifteenth year of cooperative suppression of the disease. Since this project’s inception, more than 2.9 million feet (>550 miles) of barrier trenches have been installed on more than 2,000 oak wilt infection centers in 34 counties. Oak wilt foresters with the Texas Forest Service conducted aerial surveys for oak wilt infection centers over about 3.1 million acres in central Texas in 2002.

In Tennessee, oak wilt aerial survey flights over Lincoln, Franklin, Moore, and MarionCounties were negative this summer. The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources reported in its 2002 survey 25 oak wilt infection centers in the Appalachian Mountain counties of Buncombe, Haywood and Jackson.

Beech bark disease,
Neonectria coccinea var. faginata

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Region 8: North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia

Hosts: American beech

Beech bark disease was not found in any new counties in 2002, but the disease continues to intensify within currently affected areas (map showing beech bark disease occurrence by county). Tree mortality continues to intensify in Tennessee along the Appalachian Trail and in Blount, Cocke, and SevierCounties within the Great Smoky MountainsNational Park. The disease has intensified at a faster rate than predicted, and is spreading down slope toward the CherokeeNational Forest.

Dutch elm disease,
Ophiostoma ulmi

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: American elm

Localized mortality continues to occur at low severity level in urban and wild populations of elm. North Carolina reported a number of scattered incidents of the disease in 2001.

White pine blister rust,
Cronartium ribicola

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Region 8: North Carolina

Host: Eastern white pine

White pine blister rust continues to be a disease of concern for North Carolina landowners.  The northwestern mountains are an area of particularly high hazard.  The disease can be especially devastating to growers of ornamentals and Christmas trees, many of whom are centered in this area.  The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources continues to review seedling applications for white pine seedlings and to screen or examine areas prior to planting.  In 2002, 78 applications to permit the planting of over 300,000 white pine seedlings were reviewed.  A total of 678-planted acres (and the area surrounding them) was examined to prevent the occurrence of this disease.

Butternut canker,
Sirococcus clavigigenti-juglandacearum

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Butternut

This disease has been in the South for at least 40 years and is believed to have killed 3 of every 4 butternuts in North Carolina and Virginia (map showing butternut canker occurrence by county). The fungus kills trees of all ages. Butternut canker is expected to spread and kill most of the resource, including regeneration. The species will be replaced by other species on these sites (e.g., black walnut). It is too early to predict the benefits of selection and breeding on developing resistance to the disease, but trees exhibiting resistance have been found in Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.

Dogwood anthracnose,
Discula destructive

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Region 8: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia

Host: Flowering dogwood

Dogwood anthracnose is now found throughout the range of the host in the South (map showing dogwood anthracnose occurrence by county), The very dry conditions in the eastern part of the region inhibited spread during the summer of 2002. Nevertheless, the disease continues to intensify within the generally infested area. North Carolina reports a notable decline in mortality attributable to dogwood anthracnose in mountain counties.  In 2002, the confirmed infected state/county statistics for dogwood anthracnose in the South were as follows:

North Carolina
South Carolina


Pitch canker,
Fusarium subglutinans f. sp. pini

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Southern pines

Only scattered trees across the Region are infected, but impacts can be locally significant. Pitch canker continues to infect Virginia pine saplings in portions of East Tennessee. The year 2002 was a “flare year" for pitch canker in several areas of Florida. Significant damage was reported on state-owned plantations that were formerly industry properties.

(See also Agricultural nitrogen emissions/pitch canker disease under Abiotic Damage below.)

Oak decline, abiotic and biotic influences

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Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Oaks, other hardwoods

The oak resource in the southern United States is significant. Approximately two-thirds of the hardwood forest is classified as upland hardwood, where a malady known as “oak decline” is prevalent.

Oak decline has been reported in the United States for over 130 years. It is a syndrome that involves the interaction of factors such as climate, site quality, and tree age; drought and insect defoliation escalate the condition. The severe drought of the past five years has seriously aggravated the condition in the South including Florida. In the Appalachians, trees on south-facing slopes and rocky, shallow soils are most affected. Pests such as armillaria root disease and the two-lined chestnut borer, which are ordinarily non-aggressive pests on vigorous trees, successfully attack trees stressed by oak decline. Decline is characterized by a gradual but progressive dieback of the crown. Mortality typically results after several years, with mature overstory trees the most heavily affected.

The severity of oak decline lessened in the western part of Tennessee in 2002 because of abundant rainfall. However, in middle and eastern Tennessee, the syndrome was static to increasing (up to 5% mortality) with west/southwest facing slopes most affected. Hickories as well as oaks (red, black, and white) died.

Drought-initiated oak decline of unprecedented magnitude continued in Arkansas although drought severity abated considerably in 2002. Particularly impacted were the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains; widespread red oak mortality occurred, aggravated by red oak borer activity (see Native Insects, Red oak borer). Mortality levels will have severe impacts on oak ecosystems, and have seriously damaged oak sawtimber markets.

Seed and Cone Insects and Diseases

Besides the normal incidence of seed and cone insect pests, southern seed orchards in the summer of 2002 suffered a high incidence of drought-caused mortality, especially in the east.  Seed orchard trees are among the most valuable individual trees propagated. Thus, these losses are especially severe.

Dioryctria amatella, D. clarioralis, D. disclusa, D. merkeli

Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Southern pines

Damage surveys conducted during a South-wide efficacy test of Phosmet and Bifenthrin revealed an average 20% loss of second-year cones (2002 cone crop) in untreated trees.  Damage levels in slash pine orchards were similar to those in loblolly pine seed orchards.  This loss does not include first-year flowers and conelets and is, therefore, a low estimate of the total damage caused by coneworms.  In eastern Texas, losses in unsprayed orchards remained static in 2002 at about 34%.  Losses in treated orchards were considerably less.

Pine seedworm,
Cydia spp.

Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Southern pines

The inventory of longleaf pine in central Louisiana revealed low, but consistent seedworm populations. Estimated loss was 2-3% of seed.

Pine catkin sawfly,
Xyela spp.

Region 8: Louisiana, Texas

Hosts: Southern pines

The unusual outbreak of this small, seldom-seen insect that occurred on loblolly pine in central Louisiana in the spring of 2001 declined dramatically in 2002. Infestations of mature larvae were observed at orchards and in private yards under infested trees, but numbers were much smaller than in 2001. The impact on pollination was insignificant.

Pitch canker,
Fusarium subglutinans f. sp. pini

Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Southern pines

About 10% of the pine cones harvested from state seed orchards in east Texas in 2002 were apparently damaged by pitch canker.

Leptoglossus corculus, Tetyra bipunctata

Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Southern pines

Both species of seedbug were present in pine seed orchards throughout the South. Samples of conelet ovule damage indicated that seedbugs caused about 20% seed loss on loblolly pine at the Stuart Seed Orchard in central Louisiana. Orchards inventoried in central and northern Louisiana indicated very large populations of T. bipunctata in September and October; some trees were estimated to have 500 seedbugs per tree.

Southern cone gall midge,

Region 8: Florida

Hosts: slash pine

No significant losses from this pest were reported in 2002.

Nursery Insects and Diseases

Fusarium root rot,
Fusarium oxysporum

Region 8: Louisiana

Hosts: Loblolly pine

Low levels of fusarium root rot were detected in one Louisiana nursery on loblolly pine. While causing some concern, high levels of mortality did not develop.

Rhizoctonia needle blight,
Rhizoctonia sp.

Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: Longleaf pine seedlings

Over 30,000 seedlings were lost to Rhizoctonia needle blight in 2002 at the Taylor State Nursery in South Carolina.

Fusariumsp., Pythiumsp., Phomopsis sp., and Phytophthorasp.

Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: various species

Damping off is the most common disease problem facing southern nurseries. Loss of seedlings to damping-off varies greatly from year to year owing to the interaction of pathogenic fungi and environmental conditions. Seedling losses can be severe when germination is slow due to cold, wet weather. Despite the drought, damping-off continued to be one of the most significant problems of nurseries in the South in 2002. 

Other problems

Other reported nursery diseases included Rhizoctonia root rot of Fraser fir and Phomopsis blight of cedar. Feeding damage by Lygus bugs, mole crickets, cutworms, and grubs also caused sporadic problems in tree nurseries. An invasive sedge (Cyperus spp.) was one of the most significant nursery problems reported in the summer of 2002.

A new nematode in the genus Longidorus (needle nematodes) was discovered causing a stunting of loblolly pine seedlings in a Georgia nursery. Laboratory tests have shown that slash and longleaf pines can also host this pest.

Other Stressors

Animal Damage


The South Carolina Forestry Commission reports significant beaver damage to forest trees throughout much of the State. Forty-five counties reported at least some losses. Most damage was to hardwoods, and the Commission estimates 4,475 acres are affected, representing 80,550 cords valued at nearly $1.5 million. Nevertheless, the mortality due to beaver activity was less than half of 2001 levels, apparently due to the drought and a lack of water for the animals to impound.

Tennessee noted that beaver dams resulted in flooding of 20 acres of hardwoods in the northwestern part of the state.

Abiotic Damage


Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: All species

Drought conditions prevailed over much of the South for the fifth consecutive year in 2002. Relief began in the form of rainfall from tropical storms in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Florida early in the summer, and by fall significant rains had eased the drought throughout the region. In many areas, however, the relief arrived too late to influence the growing season. Oklahoma forests continued to suffer, particularly in the northwestern part of the state. Windbreaks, riparian woodlands and urban trees were most impacted. In Tennessee, Fraser fir Christmas trees were withheld from marketing in 2002 due to extensive shoot damage caused by the drought.

Georgia suffered continued drought-caused tree losses. Impacts in nurseries were again severe, with heavy loss of containerized seedlings recorded. Drought stress exacerbated the effects of the ongoing southern pine beetle outbreak in Georgia and the Carolinas.


Region 8: Regionwide

Hosts: All species

Fire incidence and resulting tree mortality was reduced significantly in Florida, due in large measure to the return of rainfall to normal levels. Although the Appalachian Mountains experienced some significant spring fires, by fall the wildfire danger had declined to low levels throughout the region.

Air pollution

Region 8: Tennessee

Hosts: all species

Ozone damage was light to moderate in the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee in 2002.

Agricultural nitrogen emissions/pitch canker

Region 8: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina

Hosts: Loblolly and slash pine

An increasingly important problem involves point source air pollution emitted from poultry houses and hog farms. Apparently, high concentrations of airborne nitrogen unintentionally fertilize pines, thereby increasing the susceptibility of these trees to infection by pitch canker disease. A cooperative evaluation-monitoring project is currently being conducted to determine whether a causal relationship exists between agricultural nitrogen emissions and pitch canker, and whether management recommendations are needed regarding the relative proximity of animal husbandry operations and pine plantations. 


Region 8: Tennessee

Hosts: various species

Five consecutive days of frost in North Carolina in May severely damaged Fraser fir seedlings. Additional damage occurred to out-planted Christmas trees. In total, an estimated $30 million in losses were recorded.

A late May frost in Tennessee moderately affected hardwoods on the southern Cumberland Plateau. A frost in Carter and Unicoi Counties in Northeast Tennessee damaged Fraser fir Christmas trees to the extent they could not be sold.


Region 8: Tennessee, Virginia

Hosts: Southern pines and hardwoods

Several tornadoes struck Tennessee in 2002, with the eastern part of the state most heavily affected. Over 300 acres in MorganCounty and 200 acres in AndersonCounty were severely damaged. Straight-line wind damage also occurred in the Cumberland Plateau where 5 acres were affected.


Region 8: North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee

Hosts: Southern pines and hardwoods

A large area of northwestern Oklahoma was impacted by a severe ice storm in late January 2002.  An estimated 400,000 acres of forest and woodlands suffered branch and main stem breakage.

A very damaging ice storm stuck North Carolina December 4th and 5th, cutting power to 1.7 million residents. Governor Easley subsequently declared 33 counties a disaster area. At this writing, the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources is carrying out damage impact surveys.  Preliminary data show the damage to be across both sides of I-85, with most damage occurring on forest edges and in recently thinned stands.

Northern and Middle Tennessee incurred ice damage to sawtimber sized white pine as well as to loblolly pine eastern red cedar and magnolia.  A similar storm in 1994 resulted in top breakage of the upper 1/3 of crowns and a 0.1" to 0.5" reduction in radial growth.

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