by Pam Zubeck
In case you haven't had enough bad news about our forests over the summer, with the Waldo Canyon Fire and now flooding and debris flows, here's something else to worry about: insect infestations.
Today, the Colorado State Forest Servicehttp://csfs.colostate.edu/index.shtml issued a notice that this is a good time to have trees inspected for bugs. Here's that missive:
With most insect populations going dormant for the colder months, fall is a great time to have a forester inspect trees for bark beetles and other insect and disease concerns.
“As we approach the transition from fall to winter, it’s in a landowner’s best interest to survey forested property for insect and disease issues,” said Michael Till, forester with the Colorado State Forest Service Woodland Park District. “This is the time of year insects and diseases go dormant for the winter, giving homeowners a chance to take steps to mitigate further damage to their trees before next spring.”
In the CSFS Woodland Park District, which includes Teller, El Paso and Park counties, Till says that there has been an increase in activity for mountain pine beetle, Ips beetle and twig beetles due to exceptional summer heat. That, along with a lack of spring moisture, has put added stress on trees and increased their susceptibility to damage from insects and diseases.
Ponderosa, lodgepole, bristlecone and Austrian pine are tree species commonly infested by bark beetles in the district.
“The Colorado State Forest Service is here to aid landowners with these types of forest management issues,” Till said.
For more information about forest health or to request an inspection, contact the CSFS Woodland Park District at 719-687-2951 or visit csfs.colostate.edu.
Earlier this summer, the Forest Service issued a notice that fires could actually cause infestations to spread, though it's logical to think that fires would drive them away by destroying the hosts (the trees).
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Although recent wildfires in Larimer County have destroyed numerous host trees harboring mountain pine beetle populations, many unburned, dead or dying trees remain and still harbor mature beetles. When these beetles fly in search of healthy new host trees — the annual flights usually begin in early July — they will find stressed trees scorched by the fire and now more susceptible to a beetle infestation.
“Preventive treatments for surviving trees may be more important than ever right now and over the next few seasons, because in fire-impacted areas these trees represent a smaller selection of hosts and have likely experienced additional stressors,” said Sky Stephens, forest entomologist for the Colorado State Forest Service. Stephens also said that in burned areas, high-value trees already treated this year with protective chemical or pheromone agents may no longer be safe from a beetle attack. Chemical sprays and pheromones exposed to high heat or directly to fire may have lost some, if not all, of their effectiveness.