March 14, 2012–Discovery of pine beetles breeding twice in a year helps explain increasing damage, CU researchers say (North Forty News)
The above headline caught my eye as I was surfing along today. I thought back to my post A Fire of Biblical Proportions from July of 2008. Back then the pine beetles were a massive problem not only in Colorado but in many other western states and in western Canada and British Columbia.
Finding out the little destroyers are breeding twice a year is not good news for the forest lovers and the forest managers. Maybe if enough forest gets killed off or burned off, the tree huggers will let the forest management people cut the beetle killed trees down and reduce the fire danger.
Because of the extra annual generation of beetles, there could be up to 60 times as many beetles attacking trees in any given year, their study found. And in response to warmer temperatures at high elevations, pine beetles also are better able to survive and attack trees that haven’t previously developed defenses. These are among the key findings of Jeffry Mitton, a CU-Boulder professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Scott Ferrenberg, a graduate student in that department. The study is being published this month in The American Naturalist. This exponential increase in the beetle population might help to explain the scope of the current beetle epidemic, which is the largest in history and extends from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico to the Yukon Territory near Alaska.
Why this is important is it affects most of the western United States and Canada up to Alaska. There are very high priced homes and commercial property along the “Beetle Belt” (as I call it) that could go up in flames if a fire got started one of these hot dry summers we are having.
Too bad we can’t have a massive beetle hunt and kill some of them off or a cold enough winter to freeze them into beetlecicles.
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