What is the Mountain Pine Beetle?

Mountain pine beetles are small (3-4mm [3/16” +/-] long), cylindrical insects that attack and kill mature trees by boring through the bark and mining the phloem – the layer between the bark and wood of a tree. These insects inhabit Pine forests throughout British Columbia. Like forest fires, bark beetles play an important role in the natural life cycle of a forest. British Columbia is currently experiencing a mountain pine beetle epidemic throughout the range of lodgepole pine forests in the province. This epidemic is the result of a number of factors including natural beetle population cycles, continuous mild winters, and an abundance of uniformly mature pine forests.

How is the District affected?

A forest health walk-through survey was completed on forested lands within the District of Sparwood starting in 2003. Few forest health factors were detected with the exception of mountain pine beetle. Although found at relatively low levels, its distribution was widespread. Mountain pine beetle (MPB) population indictors, expressed as a ratio of trees with current attacks versus those with old attacks show that beetle populations are on the increase. This is consistent with other areas within the Elk Valley and the Cranbrook Forest District in general. The lodgepole pine within the district is particularly susceptible to damage from the mountain pine beetle due to its age, size and density. It is expected that increasing levels of mortality from the mountain pine beetle will occur in lodgepole pine over the next 5 – 10 years. In areas such as the District of Sparwood, the ratio is no longer a good indicator, except in the initial report as the majority of infested trees are removed before they turn red.

The study and related information may be inspected at the Municipal Office, (Box 520, V0B 2G0) 136 Spruce Avenue, Sparwood, BC, during regular office hours (8:30 am – 4:00 pm local time) Monday to Friday excepting Statutory Holidays. A copy of the Study is also available at the Sparwood Public Library.