Spruce bark beetle activity spikes in Southcentral

Spruce bark beetle activity in Southcentral Alaska has jumped this summer, though it’s not as widespread as it was in the 1990s.

The U.S. Forest Service measured an sharp increase in the number of acres of forest affected by spruce bark beetles between 2016 and 2017, according to a briefing paper published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The activity this summer is nearly 30 times what it was in 2014, according to the briefing.

“In 2017, mortality cause by spruce beetles occurred on nearly 450,000 acres,” the paper states. “… On the Kenai Peninsula, trees missed during previous outbreaks were attacked. North of the Kenai, trees were infested where outbreaks have previously been mostly absent.”