Mountain Pine Beetle Facts
- The truly devastating Mountain Pine Beetle is a diminutive species of bark beetle. Despite its size, it represents a highly destructive force in its endemic range.
- This insect appears to have evolved as native to a rather wide swathe of the Northern Hemisphere, compared to other species of beetle.
- This invertebrate tends to be extremely destructive. Currently, two long-running outbreaks of infestation have destroyed enormous expanses of pine.
- One of these has already destroyed more than 39.5 million acres (a6 million hectares) of pine trees in British Columbia alone.
- Combined with the outbreak in portions of the United States, this constitutes the largest forest insect blight in recorded history.
Mountain Pine Beetle Physical Description
Despite the terrible devastation swarms of this invertebrate can wreak, the highly destructive Mountain Pine Beetle remains a physically diminutive insect.
While the physical sizes naturally vary among individuals, the average specimen only attains an overall length of a meager 0.2 in (5 mm).
Its hard exoskeleton generally presents an entirely black exterior. However, individuals displaying shades of reddish black have been seen on occasion.
Species: D. poderosae
Mountain Pine Beetle Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Mountain Pine Beetle inhabits a section of North America extending along the Pacific coast, as far north as western Canada, and as far south as northwestern Mexico. The tiny arthropod also lives at altitudes ranging from sea level to 11,000 ft (3,353 m).
Though it will infest a variety of tree species, it will primarily choose either ponderosa, lodgepole, sugar or white pines. Periodic outbreaks of severe infestations often threaten entire forest regions.
The beetle progresses through four distinct life cycles: an egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adults emerge for a few days in summer, to fly to new trees. Other than those few days, all life cycle stages are spent entirely beneath the bark of a host tree.
The Mountain Pine Beetle burrows beneath the bark, feeding as they progress. The females lay their eggs in galleries throughout their tunnels. These typically hatch in 10-44 days, again, depending upon the climate.
After an adult emerges from the host tree, it typically locates and burrows into a new tree within two days.
Last, the duration of the life cycle varies, depending upon local climate, ranging from 6-24 months.