Elisabeth C. Miller Library logo Miller Library Home UW Botanic Gardens Home UW Botanic Gardens Home book graphic

3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98195 | (206) 543 0415 | Open: | Library Schedule

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #4

PAL Question 

What is the latest method of eradication for the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae, that is rampant in western Canada?


In the northwestern U.S., Washington State University's Forest Health Notes (page 9) states that the focus has shifted from using pesticides to taking preventive measures:
Control methods have shifted away from direct control (e.g. spraying, felling, burning) and towards prevention of outbreaks. This course of action was chosen after thoroughly exploring direct control measures for nearly a century and arriving at a simple conclusion: They don't work. It is possible to prevent infestation with penetrating sprays on individual, high value trees such as those in campgrounds and near houses, but they need to be applied before the tree is infected and the cost of such treatments is prohibitive for any large-scale application.
Once a mountain pine beetle outbreak begins to spread, it can be stopped by thinning the stand ahead of the edge of the outbreak. This is because outbreaks expand on a tree to tree basis where the incoming beetles switch their attacks from a recently attacked-stem to the next largest tree. More importantly, infestations can be prevented by thinning stands before crown closure, an operation that not only increases the vigor of the residual stand, but also prevents the spread of an outbreak if individual trees have been attacked.
Mountain pine beetles are a natural part of western ecosystems, and for this reason will never be completely eradicated (nor should they be, as they serve to create small stand openings which are important for biodiversity of both flora and fauna). As such, the death of a few trees on your property doesn't necessarily mean an epidemic is getting started; check your trees for root disease symptoms. To maintain mountain pine beetles at their normal levels, predisposing factors for outbreak must be removed. Some of these, such as environmental stresses, are not possible to control. However, many stresses are related to stand management practices. First and foremost, two situations need to be addressed: root disease centers and overstocked stands. More details about treatment for root disease centers have been given in other WSU Cooperative Extension "Forest Health Notes;" in summary, they need to be identified and planted with resistant species. Overstocking causes trees to compete for water, light and nutrients, and thus weakens their defenses against bark beetle attack. To minimize stand stresses and maintain vigorous growing conditions, stand managers should: (adapted from Berryman: Forest Insects, 1986).

Natural Resources Canada has a task force on the mountain pine beetle. You might want to contact them for the latest update. Go to their mountain pine beetle website and follow the links for additional information, including how to contact CCoFI.

Keywords Insect pests--Control, Trees--Diseases and pests, Pesticides
Season All Season
Date 2007-12-06

Need an answer to your gardening question? Ask us directly!

Browse keywords or Search:

Keyword Search