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An arborist identifies an Alberta pine beetle infestation in Edmonton

At All Season Tree Service, we take the protection of Alberta’s trees and wildlife seriously. That’s why we do everything we can to educate our community about threats to our native plants and to spread the word about what can be done to help.

Over the past twenty or so years, one of the biggest threats to Alberta’s pine trees has been the Alberta Pine Beetle. Although this pest is, in fact, native to North America, a complex set of circumstances have occurred that have greatly expanded its population.

As any arborist will tell you, if you suspect that Alberta Pine Beetles have infested a tree in your neighbourhood, you should arrange for a tree disease consultation as soon as possible. The only way to protect Edmonton and surrounding areas from this pest is to be aware of the problem and take decisive action. Here are just a few facts about the Alberta Pine Beetle that can help you figure out if you’ve seen one in your area. What is an Alberta Pine Beetle? The Alberta Pine Beetle, or Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins, is a small, black beetle that ranges from four to seven and half millimetres in length. In the past, these beetles preferred more temperate climates to the south, with southern Alberta being the beetle’s northernmost range. Since 2001, however, the beetles have been expanding northward with significant colonies spotted in west-central Alberta in 2006. Why are they so dangerous? These beetles are a problem because they destroy many types of pine tree (including the lodgepole, jack, ponderosa, whitebark, limber and Scots) over their life-cycle. During their summer mating season, female beetles lay up to sixty eggs in a selected pine tree. After the eggs have hatched, the larvae tunnel just under the bark of the tree and create homes for the winter. From mid-July to mid-August, fully formed beetles burrow out of the tree to repeat the cycle over again, leaving damaged and sometimes dying trees behind them. What are the signs that a tree has an infestation? To tell if you have an infestation in your tree, look for these signs of the beetle:

  • Boring dust: look for signs that they’ve passed through, such as the dust that is created when they bore through your tree. If you see wood dust around a section of your tree, you know something is wrong.

  • Pitch tube: this is a kind of resin that pine trees produce to repel the beetles. It’s a kind of natural defense that looks a little bit like crystalized honey.

  • Blue-stain fungi: these beetles carry a specific kind of fungi with them when they move from tree to tree, known as blue-stain fungi. If your tree’s wood has been tinted a kind of grayish colour, it may be a sign of beetle infestation.

If you think you have an Alberta Pine Beetle infestation, you should hire an arborist for a tree disease consultation as soon as possible. To arrange a consultation, contact us at All Season Tree Service today.

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