Pine Beetles: Out of the Forest, Into the City

Mountain pine beetles are sweeping through British Columbia’s vast forests with highly destructive results, but their mass attacks don’t stop at the edge of town.

Working in one of B.C.’s latest beetle battlegrounds -- the city of Kelowna -- UBC Okanagan biologist Bob Lalonde and mathematician Rebecca Tyson are combining their expertise to track how the mountain pine beetle spreads through an urban landscape during a mass infestation. Although extensive research has been done on the mountain pine beetle in a forest setting, there is very little information on how they work their way through a city, says Lalonde, Associate Professor of Biology and Physical Geography.

“Essentially, we have an empty playing field to conduct our research,” says Lalonde. “This summer, a mammoth infestation of mountain pine beetles arrived in the City of Kelowna, creating an interesting opportunity to pursue the beetle’s movements in an urban landscape from the beginning of an infestation. As you can imagine, many people, organizations and municipalities are interested in the project.”