WASHINGTON— It is not just wildfires ripping through and destroying Washington’s landscape. A bark beetle infestation is now creating a new batch of problems in local forest lands.
The pest has been known to destroy millions of acres of pine trees in some states and in Canada. Now Eastern Washington researchers said the bark beetle from California has hit Washington.
Bark beetles are smaller than a quarter, but together the invasive pest can be a threat to local pine trees. Master Gardner Tim Kohlhauff of Washington State University said the beetles bore into the pitch or sap. The beetles create tunnels where they eat the tree from the inside.
Normal healthy pines can bush beetles out of their sap, but trees that have endured the stress of wildfires do not have that defense system.
Researchers like Kohlhauff work with foresters to trap the small pest and prevent future outbreaks. However, it is a new breed of bark beetle that has foresters on edge.
The California fivespined Ips is smaller and also preys on young pine trees.
In the past few years, researchers have tracked outbreaks through California, Oregon, and now southern Washington near the Columbia River Gorge.