Mountain Pine Beetle Facts
- First of all, the truly devastating Mountain Pine Beetle actually remains a diminutive species of bark beetle. Despite its size, this unassuming seeming invertebrate in fact represents a highly destructive force in its endemic range.
- Furthermore, this surprising insect appears to have evolved as native to a rather wide swathe of the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, the amazing creature inhabits an extremely broad habitat range, compared to other species of beetle.
- This invertebrate tends to be extremely destructive, taking a toll on human commerce. This dismaying fact holds especially true for the logging industry. Currently, two long-running outbreaks of infestation have destroyed enormous expanses of pine.
- Previously, one of these outbreaks destroyed more than 39.5 million acres (6 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. However, it shows no noticeable degree of sexual dimorphism. As a result, the genders virtually indistinguishable to a non-professional.
While the physical sizes naturally naturally vary among individuals of any species, this trait appears to be especially prevalent in this invertebrate. But, nevertheless, the average mature specimen only attains an overall length of a meager 0.2 in (5 mm).
Further, the remarkable arthropod possesses a comparatively hard exoskeleton. This part of its anatomy generally presents an entirely black exterior. However, scattered individual specimens displaying shades of reddish black have been seen on occasion.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Curculionidae
- Genus: Dendroctonus
- Species: D. poderosae
Mountain Pine Beetle Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Mountain Pine Beetle inhabits an extensive section of North America. This extends 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 often infests a variety of tree species, it primarily chooses either ponderosa, lodgepole, sugar or white pines. Furthermore, its periodic outbreaks of severe infestations can be severe. In fact, these occurrences often threaten entire forest regions.
The beetle progresses through four distinct life cycles. These include 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 it progresses. After mating, the females lay numerous eggs in galleries throughout the many tunnels. These eggs 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. Also, the duration of the life cycle varies, depending upon local climate. But, this most commonly ranges from 6-24 months.