Mountain Pine Beetle
What is a Mountain Pine Beetle?
The Mountain Pine Beetle is a pest native to forests in the western region of North America. Attacks of this particular insect are responsible for the loss of millions of pine trees. The beetle has a hard, black exoskeleton and is about the size of a grain of rice. Following egg hatch, the larvae tunnel under the bark away from the egg gallery producing a distinct feeding pattern. The Mountain Pine Beetle has a one-year life cycle in Colorado and often kills large numbers of trees annually during its destructive outbreaks.
How to identify a Mountain Pine Beetle Attack?
There are a few different ways to identify an infestation of Mountain Pine Beetles. This particular insect will concentrate mainly on stressed trees that may have been affected by drought, poor soil, or even a recent fire. The easiest way to identify an attack is the existence of popcorn-shaped masses called “pitch outs”. This is the area of the trunk where the beetle’s tunneling begins. A healthy tree will in most cases be able to fend of these insects by pitching them out with their sap and resins. You may also identify the needles of the trees turning a yellowish brown color after an attack. This can be seen as early as 10-months after an initial attack. Another method of detection would be to remove a section of bark to readily identify the insect galleries. If you think that you may have reason to believe that your pine trees are under attack from Mountain Pine Beetles, call the experts at Integrated Lawn and Tree Care — we specialize in lawn care including protecting your trees from unwanted invaders.
Once a tree is infested with the Mountain Pine Beetle there is no effective rescue treatment that can be performed to save the tree. There are many natural controls such as sapsuckers and other insects that will feed on the adult beetles and larva, but chemical treatments have proven largely ineffective. Consistent cold temperatures can also mitigate and reduce populations. Due to the increase in outbreaks of the insect, we suggest a preventative chemical control be performed in the early spring months. This application has to be completed before the initial beetle flight and will protect the trees from attack for an entire year.