Populations of a tiny beetle that has devastated many forests in the West may finally be on the decline.
The mountain pine beetle infestation is showing signs of finally abating after about 10 years of attacks throughout the west, which have killed millions of trees from British Columbia to Colorado.
“Like previous outbreaks, the current MPB outbreak is naturally declining in many areas,” said Carl Jorgensen, entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service, Forest Health Protection office in Boise.
The tiny insects, which carve galleries in the host tree in which to lay their eggs, prefer old, larger pine trees of at least eight inches in diameter at breast height, or at 4.5 feet up. They attack lodgepole pine, whitebark pine and limber pine in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming, and can attack some species of ornamental pines.
“As with previously recorded outbreaks, the current outbreak has killed millions of lodgepole and whitebark pines over large expanses of western forest,” said Jorgensen.