Alberta’s battle against the ravaging effects of the mountain pine beetle continues.
Despite its tiny size – less than 7.5mm – the mountain pine beetle is the most damaging pine tree pest in North America. In only a few short months, the foliage of an infested tree will change colour from green to yellow, followed by bright red, brown and eventually grey, indicating tree death. This can have a devastating affect on our economy, forests and ecosystems.
This winter, mountain pine beetle control crews roamed some of the most vulnerable forests near Grande Prairie, Hinton, and Slave Lake to remove individual infested trees. After cutting them down, they’re burned or mulched to kill the beetles living under the bark. This ensures larvae cannot develop and fly on to infest other trees in the summer.
Removing one infested tree can prevent as many as five more from being attacked. So far, more than 90,000 infested trees have been removed this year.
Six million hectares of Alberta’s pine forests are at risk of infestation. Single-tree removals are one part of Alberta’s strategy to prevent beetles from spreading eastward into the boreal forest and further into the foothills.
Other strategies include working with the forestry industry to harvest stands of at-risk and infested pine trees, and the long-term replacement of over-mature pine stands with younger forests.
Later this spring, we’ll switch our focus to survey how well the developing beetle larvae survived the winter and how many healthy pine trees have been infested. These overwintering survival surveys will help determine our strategies for battling the mountain pine beetle again next year.
Learn more about Alberta’s action against the mountain pine beetle and actions you can do to prevent the spread.
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