Slash and Burn Insect Control

Douglas Fir Bark Beetle

Douglas Fir Bark Beetle

Bark beetles, such as the Douglas Fir Beetle, Dendroctonus pseudotsugae, have cycles of outbreaks. The beetles are most successful colonizing trees that are weakened by windstorms, fire, or other events. The Douglas Fir Beetle is less successful in attacking healthy trees. Healthy trees produce enough sap to pitch the beetles out of the tunnels they make and preventing damage. Healthy trees can be successfully attacked if very large populations of beetles initiate and attack. The trees may not produce sufficient sap to pitch out all the beetles.

In the Caribou Region of British Columbia, Canada, recent fires have weakened Douglas Firs and led to increases in Douglas Fir Beetle population. An obvious control strategy is to kill beetles by cutting down infested trees that are unlikely to survive. The beetles can develop on cut wood, so the bark must also be removed to kill the beetles. Reducing the beetle population can help healthy trees survive. The Douglas Firs are prized for their aesthetic value and are expensive to remove. Property owners may be reluctant to remove dying trees. However, the dying infested trees pose a risk to all the healthy ones. Having and maintaining forested areas, that many think of as natural, requires management to produce a desired outcome. Nature can and does manage our forested areas, but the outcomes are sometimes unpleasant.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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