Spruce beetle could be sign of 'new normal'

An outbreak of the spruce beetle in the Omineca region north of Prince George could be a harbinger of things to come if the conditions that brought it to the fore remain in place in the coming years, according to a University of Northern British Columbia professor.

Like its cousin, the pine beetle, deep cold is one of the insect's biggest enemies, so the recent series of "almost Okanagan-like" winters in this region has done little if anything to halt the bug's progress, Dezene Huber, a professor in UNBC's ecosystem science program told The Citizen.

Unlike its cousin, the spruce beetle prefers fallen trees and thanks to some major blowdowns, probably brought on by the more unpredictable and severe weather that comes with climate change, they've been getting an abundance of those, Huber also noted.


Pine beetle infestation triples in Jasper park

The mountain pine beetle continues to attack pine trees at an exponential rate in Jasper National Park and has the potential to overrun the park’s forests within the next few years.

According to Parks Canada, just over 21,500 hectares of the park’s pine forests have now been colonized by the beetle, more than three times the amount mapped in 2014. A year earlier, the agency mapped 122 hectares.

“Controlling the mountain pine beetle is not a workable solution,” said Salman Rasheed, Jasper’s resource conservation manager, during Jasper National Park’s annual forum, March 16.


Spruce beetle outbreak in northeast B.C. has potential to spread

Stressed by drought and already severely damaged by a massive pine beetle infestation, British Columbia’s beleaguered forests are facing a second major insect attack.

Katherine Bleiker, a research scientist with Natural Resources Canada, said a regional spruce beetle outbreak in northeast B.C. is serious and could spread to a larger area.

“You are starting to see it everywhere,” Dr. Bleiker said of the spruce beetle, which the provincial government identified last week as a major threat to forests in the Omineca region near Prince George.


B.C. spruce beetle infestation in northern B.C. forests grows exponentially

A plan to address the latest scourge on British Columbia's forests — the spruce beetle — will include an extra $1 million in funding and the appointment of a spruce beetle project manager.

Native to B.C. and a common forest pest that usually feeds on the inner bark of fallen or weakened trees, the spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) becomes dangerous during serious and prolonged infestations, when it is capable of killing healthy trees.

The current infestation has taken over 156,000 hectares of forest in the Omineca region of northern B.C., the largest outbreak since the 1980s and a huge increase from the 7,653 hectares affected in the last infestation in 2013.