Forecast Warns of Another Spruce Beetle Invasion
Our precious spruce trees, which many people use for their Christmas trees, may be in imminent danger from a voracious invasive pest called the spruce bark beetle. One of the worst infestations occurred in the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska in the 1990s. The damage was catastrophic, with three million acres of spruce trees destroyed in total. The larvae of the spruce bark beetle surround the tree, and slowly kill them by cutting off their sugar supply.
So what causes these nasty pests to pop up, and why is it likely they’ll show up once again this year? Researchers discovered that the spruce bark beetles only kill the oldest, largest trees, avoiding those smaller than six inches in diameter. This is one factor that could mean their return. Those small trees that they avoided before are now fully grown, especially since they had extra light and room to grow without the larger trees taking up space. The second factor to consider is the increasingly warm temperatures. These warm summer favor the survival of the beetle. With the warmer summers, the beetles can survive and flourish during a time when they would usually hibernate. So, keep a watch on your spruce trees this year and the next, because another attack is most likely inevitable.
How do you think officials should deal with this possible infestation?