Alberta’s fight against the mountain pine beetle
Alberta had a good year in its fight against the mountain pine beetles (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins), thanks to both the weather and to the province’s containment efforts.
Aerial surveys are revealing the beetle infestation in the the province has declined this year, and have shown that no beetles travelled to Alberta from infestations in British Columbia.
The mountain pine beetle has been found in Alberta since 2002. It is estimated that 6 million hectares of forest in Alberta are threatened by the beetle.
The province’s control program aims to remove infested trees right away – either through cutting, or burning. Areas that are very susceptible may be harvested before the beetles infest the area.
Beyond worrying about beetles already in Alberta there is also the risk of beetles flying in from British Columbia. Right now, it is estimated that the mountain pine beetle has enough food sources still in B.C. to last until 2014, so there is a threat of the beetles travelling from the west until at least that time.
This summer, as cool as it was in Alberta, was favourable for containing the spread of the beetles. Scientists have determined that the beetles don’t start to fly until the temperature is 25°C. Since the summer was cool and damp, the beetles did not exhibit much activity.