Ravenous pine beetle reaches central Alberta

After devouring the pine forests of British Columbia, swarms of mountain pine beetles staved off starvation in July and August by climbing up treetops and hitching rides on westerly winds that blew them deeper than ever into northern Alberta.

Beetles now infest trees as far east as Slave Lake and Entwistle in spite of more than $200 million--$60 million in the last year alone--spent by the Alberta government in the last three years to contain the pest, which is as tiny as a grain of rice.

The Alberta and federal governments announced another $25 million on Monday to manage the beetle's spread from this latest outbreak.