Pine trees may be defending themselves against pine beetles in the wrong way, U of C researcher finds

A toxic chemical that lodgepole pines produce to defend themselves from pine beetles may be leading to their downfall, according to research by a University of Calgary professor.

“The trees that got attacked in the (pine beetle) outbreak in Banff a few years ago tended to be the ones with more of the defensive resin ducts than the ones that were not attacked,” explained pine beetle expert Mary Reid.

The smell of defensive chemicals produced by the pine trees, which are called monoterpenes, is like perfume to the beetles, which are more likely to attack trees with more monoterpenes.