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Southern pine beetles killing thousands of trees across Long Island

Southern pine beetles killing thousands of trees across Long Island
Southern pine beetles killing thousands of trees across Long Island 02:08

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. -- An invasive beetle is forcing thousands of trees to be cut down on Long Island's East End.

The Paris family of Sag Harbor bemoans majestic trees on their street are victims of the southern pine beetle feeding frenzy.

"It's terrible," Deborah Paris told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan.

The southern pine beetle is wreaking havoc across Suffolk County.

"It's terrible. It feels like a fire trap ready to happen," one person said.

"This beetle spreads everywhere," another person said.

Homeowners are discovering treasured pine trees dead and dying. Now, they must come down, which can be costly at $1,300 per tree on average.

The beetle, first discovered seven years ago on Long Island's East End, kills by burrowing through bark, overwhelming the tree's defenses.

"We have to protect the trees," one person said.

Pine trees are being felled by the thousands.

Hither Hills and Napeague state parks were recently targeted.

"Surveyed the area and determined that we had a real major problem ... So now the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has an emergency contract," said George Gorman, regional director of New York state parks.

Because of the beetles, 4,300 pine trees of all species must go.

The southern pine beetle is about the size of a grain of rice, and swarms can kill a tree within two months. Look for discoloration of needles, pitch tubes, popcorn-sized clumps of resin and scattered holes and tunnels.

"Whether it's in your backyard or whether it's a major state park, we have to react right away to remove it," Gorman said.

Once infected, the trees can't be saved, but surrounding ones can be, so remain vigilant.

"If you're hiking and you notice withering trees, you see little sap marks, you see holes in the trees, report it, let someone know, contact the DEC. We want to try to get a jump on it as soon as possible," Montauk State Park manager Frank Stark said.

The public is urged to do its part to help save the pine trees of Long Island.

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