The mountain pine beetle has always been a natural element of B.C.’s interior pine forests. Normally, cold temperatures, forest fires and natural predators keep populations in check. However, an abundance of mature lodgepole pine, combined with mild winters and uncharacteristically hot, dry summers, led to an unprecedented epidemic. The epidemic peaked in 2004 and has rapidly declined since then – by 2021, the mountain pine beetle outbreak will essentially have run its course.
Mountain pine beetle affected wood can be used for anything from standard framing lumber to value-added wood products. The beetles carry a fungus that leave a blue or grey stain; which does not affect the wood’s strength properties.
Mountain pine beetles lay eggs under the trees’ bark, which introduce a bluestain fungus into the sapwood that prevents the tree from using its pitch to repel and kill the attacking beetles. Usually within a year of attack, the needles will have turned red, which means the tree is dying or dead and the beetles have moved to another tree.