In Colorado, spruce bug epidemic eclipses mountain pine beetle blight during 2014

Red pine trees affected by the recent beetle epidemic.
Red pine trees affected by the recent beetle epidemic.

Summit Daily‘s Alli Langley – 

The beetles killing spruce trees in epidemic proportions across Colorado attacked forests at a faster pace in 2014.

Meanwhile, the mountain pine beetle epidemic slowed dramatically, likely because the pine beetle has run out of live trees to infest.

The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service on Friday, Feb. 6, released the results of their annual aerial survey of insect- or disease-killed trees across nearly 44,000 square miles of Colorado forests.

According to Colorado State Forest Service‘s report,

In 2014, the area affected by mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) declined to its lowest level since 1996. A total area of 15,000 acres with active infestation were mapped during the annual aerial forest health survey.

Most of these acres (approximately 10,000) were in Larimer County, in the vicinity of Red Feather Lakes. Infestations also continued along the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristo Range and on Miller Mesa near Ridgway.

The decline in area with active infestation is primarily due to the death of suitable host trees during previous years of the outbreak. Since 1996, almost 3.4 million acres of lodgepole, ponderosa and five-needle pines have been affected by this bark beetle.

For more information about insects and diseases impacting Colorado’s forests, read the 2014 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests and the 2014 Insect and Disease Update.

Read more CSFS coverage on their summary article here.

Additional resources:

2014 Forest Health Report

2014 Insect & Disease Update – A Supplement to the 2014 Forest Health Report