Pine Beetle Rampage

Anyone living in British Columbia has heard of the Pine Beetle. A small insect, no bigger than a grain of rice, responsible for killing millions of acres of pine forest. The female bores into a mature tree secreting a pheromone to attract male beetles. The men arrive, packing another pheromone to entice more females. The pine tree protests with resin that’s toxic to the beetles. One step ahead; the beetles release spores from a blue fungus carried in their mouths, and distributed under the bark as they bore. This fungus stops the secretion of defensive resin, and serves as nourishment for the larvae now laid under the tree bark. Once mature, these beetles pack their bags, leaving behind a dead tree.

Within a few hours drive of coastal rain forests, cedar and hemlock trees give way to once vast stands of pine and spruce. At first glance you’re inclined to think a forest fire swept across the mountainside.  As far as the eye can see, the brown landscape confounds. us with a sense of disbelief.

Pine Beetles used to die off during the winter. Climate change has created milder winters, allowing these tiny pests to thrive. Quickly running out of mature lodge pole pine, they’ve started to attack high elevation white bark pines. Grizzly bears depend on seeds from white bark pines to store energy when they hibernate. Forests that would absorb carbon dioxide when healthy, now release it into the atmosphere as they decay. B.C. government attempts to stop the spread of pine beetle, have ordered clear cutting – leading to even fewer  co2 defenses, erosion, and consequently contamination of   waterways.

Ponder a tiny insect causing so much trouble. Global warming is much more than melting ice.