Bark beetles cross Continental Divide
September 13, 2008
FORT COLLINS, Colo. ” Bark beetles that have killed millions of acres of lodgepole pines throughout the West have been found in pines in Fort Collins.
Experts haven’t determined how the beetles jumped from the Continental Divide around Cameron Pass and Rocky Mountain National Park to the city, apparently without harming pines in the Poudre Canyon. Beetles can typically fly up to a mile.
City forester Tim Buchanan said trees have been hit in all parts of Fort Collins. He said most of the trees are nonnative Scotch pine, but some native ponderosa pines also have been attacked.
Buchanan said the beetles will not spread any more this year because beetles are no longer flying from tree to tree.
“The vast majority of the trees will be fine,” he said.
The city forestry staff and forest entomologists will monitor trees over the coming months to determine the scale of the threat.
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While firewood brought in from infected areas can spread the beetles, experts say the scale and suddenness of the reports in Fort Collins indicate the beetles got to town some other way.
The first reports of the beetles in town came shortly after two days of cool, rainy weather with an occasional strong wind in late August.
Retired Colorado State Forest Service entomologist Dave Leatherman, who spent his 32-year career studying mountain pine beetles, said the infestation in Fort Collins could be the result of a late flight by mountain beetles that were helped by weather and possibly wind.
“We’re all scratching our heads about the source,” he said.
The beetles, which burrow under tree bark, have killed about 1.5 million acres of lodgepole pines in the central Colorado mountains.