Ed Andrieski/AP
A Mountain Pine beetle is seen on the tip
of a knife during the examination of
trees in the White River National Forest
near Vail, Colo.

In Western States, Pine Beetles Wreak More Havoc than Wildfires

July 17, 2008 08:59 AM
by Liz Colville
A pine beetle infestation in California is the worst the state has seen since 1981, and is killing more trees than the state’s wildfires.

30-Second Summary

Killing 3.9 million acres of trees in several western states in 2007, the mountain pine beetle is now victimizing “hundreds of thousands of acres of towering trees” in California, the U.S. Forest Service director of Forest Health Protection Robert Mangold told USA Today.

In contrast, the California wildfires destroyed over 600,000 acres in the first half of 2008 and have burned an average of 3.4 million acres each year since 2003, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

While the pine beetle and fire do “play a role in the regeneration of lodgepole pines,” warmer temperatures associated with global warming are encouraging the beetles to move into higher altitudes and attack other species of trees, USA Today writes.

A treatment of chemicals that mimics those produced by the beetles is helping to deter the bugs by making them believe the trees are already playing host to another colony of beetles. But due to the cost, these treatments are being limited to “high-value trees around campgrounds and homes.”

Headline Link: ‘Pine beetle threat grows in the West’

Background: Two Distinct Threats to Western Forests

Mountain Pine Beetles in Western U.S. and Canada
2008 Forest Fires in Western States

Reference: The Mountain Pine Beetle

Reference: Plant Pest Information from the USDA


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines