Spruce Bark Beetles: Where to Find Them and How Insect Control in Alaska Can Prevent Them

June 18, 2018 10:15 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Effective insect control in Alaska is an important step for maintaining the health of backyard spruce trees and spruce forests. Spruce bark beetles pose a considerable threat to spruce trees—here’s some information to help you learn how to spot them and how to keep them away from your property.

About spruce bark beetles

Though only a quarter-inch long, the spruce bark beetle is one of the reasons why trees in the spruce forests in south central Alaska are dying. Spruce bark beetles are also a threat to trees in yards and community settings throughout Alaska. They are attracted to trees with diameters greater than eight inches, but won’t hesitate to damage or kill smaller trees (down to four inches in diameter). However, the most susceptible spruce trees are older, large-diameter trees that have been stressed and weakened by damage to their bark or roots, or due to a lack of water.

Although spruce bark beetles are known to attack many species of spruce, they prefer to go after Sitka spruce and white, Lutz spruce. Spruce bark beetles rarely attack black spruce trees, and while they fancy the ornamental blue spruce, they are not their preferred targets. Additionally, it’s important to know that spruce bark beetles only attack spruce trees and not other tree species (conifers and hardwoods).

Signs your trees have been attacked

Early summer is when the winged adult spruce bark beetle emerges from their host tree. But just because they leave a tree does not mean they’ll go away—in fact, they move on to attack other spruce trees in the surrounding area, like in backyards, parks and forests. Once dead, trees become a hazard to people, animals and structures. For this reason, property owners should have their spruce trees checked out by a tree care specialist. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • You will see reddish-brown dust around the bases and on the bark of trees that have been attacked by the spruce bark beetle. This dust is made when the spruce bark beetle chews holes into tree bark.
  • Trees that have been attacked but are still alive may present with globules of resin. Globules will be at the entrances to holes bored by the spruce bark beetle, as this is the tree’s way of trying to push out the beetle.
  • Infested trees tend to die within a few weeks of being attacked, but it can take up to a year for tree needles to begin changing color and falling off.
  • It’s common for trees that have been killed by the spruce bark beetle to suffer from stem and root rot infections. They are also susceptible to falling over naturally or being blown over by the wind.

Preventing an infestation in the future

It’s recommended that folks who own land grow and keep a mixture of native tree species, as this is considered the best approach to ensure a healthy and insect-resistant yard or forest. Since spruce wood with bark attracts beetles, avoid leaving fresh spruce firewood lying around—especially if the wood is already infested with the spruce bark beetle.

Call Pied Piper Pest Control today to learn more about insect control in Alaska!

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