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 outbreaks.

How to identify a Mountain Pine Beetle Attack?

There are a few different ways to identify an infestation of Mountain Pine Beetle. This particular insect will concentrate mainly on stressed trees  that may have been affected by drought, poor soil, or even 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 initial attack. Another method of detection would be to remove a section of bark to readily identify the insect galleries.

Our Approach

Once a tree is infested with the Mountain Pine Beetle there is no such rescue treatment that can be performed to save the tree. There are many natural controls such as sap suckers and other insects that will feed on the adult beetles and larva. 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 initial beetle flight and will protect the trees from attack for an entire year.

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