Science looks beyond the pine beetle to a landscape of pests in B.C. forests

While British Columbia’s timber industry is occupied with the mountain-pine-beetle infestation’s aftermath, forest managers haven’t lost sight of other pest problems looming among the trees in a changing climate.

News this summer has been dominated by mill closures and production cuts as companies adjust to timber supplies depleted by the unprecedented infestation that killed off pine trees in up to 18,000 square kilometres of forests.

At the same time, the province is closely watching an outbreak of spruce beetles chewing through trees across hundreds of square kilometres of forests to the north and east, Douglas fir beetles are wreaking havoc in Cariboo forests around Williams Lake and 100 Mile House along with other pests such as the spruce bud worm.

“We wouldn’t expect (the spruce beetle infestation) to be at the same scale as the mountain pine beetle,” said entomologist Jeanne Robert. “That said, this is a large outbreak, so we are going to keep monitoring it very carefully.”


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IMAGE: Insects on the attack: The discoloured trees in the landscape above are indicative of an infestation of the spruce beetle, a bark beetle that is a close relative to the mountain pine beetle. The beetles are a normal part of forest ecology but a warming climate has created conditions that have allowed larger-than-usual outbreaks. Photo: Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development PNG