2012-09-06

Pine beetles thick as rain clouds over British Columbia

If you thought the beetle-killed forests in Montana look bad, check out the Idaho-sized hole they’ve chewed in British Columbia.

Investigative reporter Andrew Nikiforuk brought some equally massive metaphors to describe the impact the insect “the size of a mouse turd” has had on Canadian ecology and politics. The combination of high-grade logging for spruce and fir and drought conditions has increased British Columbia’s lodgepole pine population from 17 percent to 53 percent of the provincial forest in the last few decades.

And that’s attracted swarms of mountain pine bark beetles so large, they get mistaken for rain clouds on airport radars in Prince George, B.C. The combined weight of beetles in the infestation over Homer, Alaska, equaled 3,300 killer whales, or half a million wolves flying over the forest.