Bark Beetle Status: Good News, Bad News
Mountain Pine Beetle The good news in this year’s bark beetle update is that the mountain pine beetle epidemic is waning across Colorado. Just a few years ago, this epidemic was an uncontrollable landscape-scale decimation of pines across the Rockies. Now, while an elevated threat of attack still lingers (especially in Eagle and Larimer counties), mountain pine beetle pressure has lifted significantly. The epidemic has dropped from over a million acres affected across Colorado in 2008 to fewer than two hundred thousand acres affected in 2013. At Earth-Wise, we have changed our recommended treatments accordingly by switching from sprays to the use of anti-aggregation pheromone packets that signal beetles to move away from treated trees.
Spruce Beetle The bad news is that spruce beetle is on the rise for the fifth year in a row, up from around sixty thousand acres affected in 2008 to close to four hundred thousand acres affected in 2013. In the last two years, spruce beetle has emerged over mountain pine beetle as the most damaging forest insect pest in Colorado. A native insect to the Rocky Mountain Region, spruce beetle’s primary host is Engelmann spruce. This beetle kills trees in much the same way that mountain pine beetle does. Adult beetles tunnel into the thin cambium layer beneath the tree’s bark where they lay eggs, which in turn produce larvae that tunnel more extensively beneath the bark. Ultimately the tunneling cuts off the tree’s means of circulating nutrients and kills the tree. In the case of mountain pine beetle, this process happens in just a year, whereas it can take multiple years for spruce beetles to kill their hosts. The epidemic of spruce beetles has been most extreme in the Grand Mesa, Rio Grande, San Juan, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests. Significant increases in activity have also been recorded throughout Pitkin County. The most susceptible host trees are mature spruces in or near forested areas, often near wind thrown stands or drainage bottoms. Attack is preventable with the use of pheromone packets or spray treatments.
Never a Better Time to Go Organic
Does Earth-Wise currently deep-root fertilize your trees? If so, congrats! You’re already using one of our organic options. Our deep root fertilizer is a unique combination of organic products that strengthens trees and shrubs from the ground up, promoting healthy roots and well-balanced soil nutrients using ingredients like fish emulsion, seaweed, mycorrhizae, micronutrients, and soil humates. We’ve found that these products are not only more environmentally-friendly, but deliver vastly superior results compared to synthetic high nitrogen products. For years, Earth-Wise has proudly offered organic solutions for tree and lawn pests, and that selection has continually grown. We now have multiple organic options available to treat the most common pests in our region, including aphids, mites, fungal pathogens, scale insects, and more. We also offer pheromone-based solutions for bark beetles like mountain pine beetle, spruce beetle, and Douglas-fir beetle. Additionally, Earth-Wise offers soil injection and basal trunk-spray options. These organic treatments and alternative application methods are highly effective and reduce or eliminate impacts on non-target populations, keeping your backyard ecosystem healthy while maximizing results. With so many effective organic choices available for your plant health care program, there’s never been a better time to go organic.
Spruce beetle photo by: W.M. Ciesla, Forest Health Mgmt. International, www.Bugwood.org