Spruce beetle spreads in B.C. Interior

Biggest infestations in 30 years identified in Prince George area, spreading with help from recent dry, warm and windy conditions

Spruce beetles bore through tree bark and lay eggs, producing larvae that feed on the inner bark and promote growth of blue fungus that eventually kills the tree.

The B.C. government is moving to contain an infestation of spruce beetles in the Prince George area that is the largest seen since the 1980s.

The affected area has grown from 7,653 hectares in 2013 to 156,000 hectares this spring, according to aerial and ground surveys by the forests ministry. Spruce beetles are native to B.C. and normally feed on the inner bark of fallen or weakened trees, but can attack healthy trees.

“Recent weather patterns, including warm springs, dry summers, warm winters and windstorms (resulting in more blowdowns), have contributed to the increase in spruce beetle populations in the region,” the ministry said in a statement Friday.

A $1 million fund has been set aside for control activities, including “sanitation logging” of infested areas. Protected areas and those that are uneconomic to log are treated using “trap trees.”

The affected areas are in the eastern valleys of the Mackenzie timber supply area and the northern part of the Prince George timber supply areas. Both are in the Omineca region, an area more than nine million hectares with 4.7 million available for logging.

[Ministry fact sheet here.]

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