Alberta vs. Mountain Pine Beetle

Beetle found beneath tree bark

Beetle found beneath tree bark

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.

Photo of a control crew member removing a mountain pine beetle infested tree

Identified trees are cut down

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.

Photo of crews burning infested logs

Logs are burned to ensure beetles and larvae do not survive

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.

View our gallery for more photos.

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2 thoughts on “Alberta vs. Mountain Pine Beetle

  1. Oil profits are down and softwood lumber prices are climbing… did anyone else forecast the spin doctors to arrive?

    If the province was using burning/mulching only, I would believe that this is about pine beetle, but when they use massive clear cuts in areas that traditionally have minimal logging, (Kananaskis) then it’s about logging.

    The reduction in pine beetle infestations to the south, despite very warm winters, shows that this is just a natural cycle that has to run its course.

  2. Pingback: Crews survey pine beetle winter survival | Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

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