Beat the Beetles: Researchers Crank Up the Volume to Fight Tree-Killing Pests

A phenomenon dubbed “Beetle Mania” is playing out in northern Arizona. As can be expected, it involves rock music, but instead of screaming fans there are cheering scientists who have found a way to drive bark beetles crazy with sound.

In a Northern Arizona University School of Forestry lab, researchers are listening to the sound of Western forests under attack: the scratching, scraping, crunching of the Ips bark beetle and its cousins chewing the life out of ponderosa, pinyon and lodgepole pines.

Armed with sonic bullets, they are firing back with Rush Limbaugh, Queen, Guns N’ Roses and manipulated sounds of the bugs themselves.