Photo by KEN FRY/OLDS COLLEGE Adult mountain pine beetle or Dendroctonus ponderosae, collected in Grande Prairie from the Olds College insect collection.

Cold snap likely killing mountain pine beetle in central Alberta – but not all of them

There may be an upside to the cold snap.

As the bitter cold is getting to central Albertans, it is also likely getting to the invasive, tree-killing mountain pine beetles.

Ken Fry, an Olds College instructor at the School of Animal Science and Horticulture, said the deep freeze has an impact on the insect, but not a significant one. This means the cold will kill off some beetles, but it won’t eradicate them.

The creatures were found in forests just outside Rocky Mountain House last year. They were also discovered in Clearwater County in traps set by the Sundre branch of the West Fraser logging company.

Fry said the bugs produce antifreeze in their bodies during winter, which protects them. But they may not survive in severe temperatures, like the ones during this cold snap.

He explained the antifreeze can only go so far, much like winter coats that humans wear, which may not withstand severe temperatures compared to mild temperatures.

The severe temperatures, particularly around October or March, also get to them — when they’re not as “winter ready.”

“(Severe temperatures mean) there will be higher levels of mortality, but you have to understand there’s thousands and millions of them,” said Fry.

This means the cold winter temperatures will slow their progression in central Alberta, but not kill them off completely.

Tom Daniels, Sundre forestry superintendent for West Fraser, echoed Fry’s thoughts. He said the slow progression buys more time, which is good news.

“But they have a propensity to build population so quickly, so if you don’t kill at least 95 per cent of the population, it’s just a setback for them,” said Daniels.

The insects enter Alberta through B.C., where they have decimated forests before attacking those around Jasper.

Daniels said the Jasper area is also under a deep freeze, but that just means the population will take a hit, but not die off completely.

“Unless we’re able to see sustained cold.”

It’s not a case of if the beetles will infest central Alberta, it’s when, Daniels said.

The species is prominent in northern Alberta, Fry said, in the jack pine forests.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

An infested tree showing signs of trees sap being extruded through holes in the trunk. (Contributed photo).

Just Posted

Red Deer stamp-collecting event a hit, local club expected to start in fall

Postage stamp-loving Red Deerians can expect to have a place to gather… Continue reading

Red Deer woman one of three arrested by Sundre RCMP

The 19-year-old had numerous arrest warrants out of various jurisdictions

Businessman and volunteer named 2019 Citizen of the Year

John Donald’s parents and sister were each honoured previously

School leader named Red Deer Young Citizen of the Year

Leading by example at Hunting Hills High School

Suspects shot at pursuing police during crime spree

No police officers were injured in May 17 shooting

WATCH: Sunnybrook Farm Museum in Red Deer welcomes spring

Sunnybrook Farm Museum is celebrating spring in Red Deer. On Saturday, the… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Stan Lee’s former manager arrested on elder abuse charges

LOS ANGELES — A former business manager of Stan Lee has been… Continue reading

BCUC sets out process for gas and diesel price inquiry, set to wrap Aug. 30

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Utilities Commission says it has set out… Continue reading

2 hikers rescued after darkness sets in on trail near Cypress Mountain

North Shore Rescue says it rescued two hikers caught in the darkness… Continue reading

Canada beats Czech Republic to advance to gold-medal game at world championship

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Canada’s latest win at the world hockey championship left… Continue reading

Rimouski forward Lafreniere, Prince Albert goaltender Scott earn CHL awards

HALIFAX — Rimouski Oceanic star Alexis Lafreniere has been named the Canadian… Continue reading

10 wounded as gunmen open fire outside New Jersey bar

TRENTON, N.J. — Authorities say at least two gunmen fired into a… Continue reading

Mississippi rep accused of punching wife issues statement

JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi lawmaker accused of recently punching his wife… Continue reading

Most Read