Mountain Pine Beetle
In the summer of 2018 the Alder Flats, Winfield, Buck Lake, Pigeon Lake areas and one location one mile west of Wetaskiwin experienced an in flight of mountain pine beetles (MPB) Dendroctonus ponderosae. This insect is the most destructive insect pest of the lodgepole pine forest. In 2019, 33 sites have been confirmed. It is expected that emergence will take place in May or June and a new brood will continue its flight eastward.
What Can You Do?
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry recommends the removal of all pine trees with over 40 pitch tubes. When the MPB population approaches the maximum that the tree can support, the beetles in the tree release a pheromone called verbenone to repel newly arriving beetles. Verbenone can be synthetically produced and acts as an anti-aggregation pheromone which sends the message “No Vacancy”. Verbenone pouches should be attached to the north side of the tree between June 15 and July 1st.
Verbenone has shown to be effective at low to moderate beetle population pressure and is not very effective when the pressure is high. Whether you value your pines as landscape trees or for shelterbelt protection you may want to make the investment to attempt to protect your trees this summer.
What can you do?
The mountain pine beetle is a small, black beetle about the size of a grain of rice. For several years mountain pine beetles have been expanding east into Alberta from British Columbia. Recently, there have been reports that Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) has expanded its range. 33 locations have been confirmed within the County of Wetaskiwin boundaries.
What type of trees may be attacked?
Mountain pine beetles attack and kill pine trees, usually mature ones aged 80 to 120 years old. All species of pine, including lodgepole, jack pine, scots pine and ponderosa pine are vulnerable. Mountain pine beetles do not attack aspen, spruce or fir trees.
When do beetles attack trees and how long do they stay in trees?
Beetles fly in search of new trees in July and August. Once a beetle has found a suitable tree, it will live in that tree for the remainder of its life and lay eggs. The new generation of beetles will not emerge from the tree for at least one year.
If my tree is attacked, will it die?
Trees successfully attacked by mountain pine beetles usually die within one year, however if the beetle has made an attempt to enter the tree but is “pitched out” before completing reproduction it may survive.
How can I tell if my trees have been attacked?
Look for creamy globs that look like crystallized honey, called pitch tubes, and sawdust at the base of the tree and in the bark’s crevices.
What do I do if my tree is infested?
Scout out the pine trees on your property, wrap survey tape around each tree that has been attacked. It is recommended that a tree with more than 40 pitch tubes be removed. In the winter months trees can be sold and transported to sawmills and debarked on their site. Other options are to hire an arborist with a chipper to come on to your property and leave the material on site or burn the mass attacked trees.
How Can the County of Wetaskiwin Help?
Our staff will provide identification of the mountain pine beetle so control measures can be put in place. Early detection and control by residents play an important role in managing Alberta’s MPB infestation and preventing further spread. This pest is not registered under the Provincial Agricultural Pest Act.
If you suspect a Mountain Pine Beetle infestation on your property please contact our Horticulturist, Heather Dickau at email@example.com or call 780-352-3321
To See Pictures, please click on the PDF link here.