British Columbia sure gets its fair share of forest fires during the hot and dry season, burning down acres of trees throughout the province. But if you think they are the sole destructive force toward trees, then you obviously don’t know the bark beetle. These destructive pests wipe out countless trees every year, wreaking havoc in forests, cedar tree farms, backyards, and the environment. Read on to find out how to handle a bark beetle problem.

What are bark beetles?

bark beetle, fraser valley cedars, cedar tree famNo larger than a grain of rice, bark beetles are 3-8 mm in length. But don’t let their small size fool you. Even the largest, tallest tree in the forests is no match for a colony of bark beetles. Once these little rascals make their way into your trees or cedar tree farm, they’ll burrow, excavate galleries, reproduce, and feed until your trees are dead.

With over 600 species in Canada and the United States alone, folks on both sides of the border have their hands full trying to stop bark beetle infestations. But with warmer climate trends, these resilient pests are surviving winters, resulting in increased outbreaks and more tree damage.

What are the signs of a bark beetle infestation?

Tough to spot, these elusive insects spend most of their lifecycle embedded in the bark of your trees. And because you may never actually see a bark beetle, you’ll have to keep your eyes open for clues to an infestation. Here are some of the signs to watch out for:

  • Reddish-brown needles
  • Flaking and/or small holes in the bark
  • Sawdust
  • Brick-coloured pitch tubes (a sap-like substance) on tree trunks or branches

How can I prevent bark beetle infestations?

When it comes to keeping bark beetles at bay, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Keep your cedars properly pruned, fertilized, and watered, especially during the dry season.

Unfortunately, once you’ve noticed signs of a bark beetle infestation, there’s little chance of saving your tree. If bark beetles have recently made their way into your cedars, however, you might have a shot at containing the infestation. Begin by removing branches, bark, or other areas of the tree where bark beetles are present and burn all the debris to prevent pests from escaping.

If it’s too late to save your tree, have it removed as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to have bark beetles spreading to other trees on your property.

A bark beetle outbreak is serious business, killing trees and ruining the eco-system. Taking some preventative steps now will help make your cedars less tempting to these troublesome pests later.

For more advice on how to keep your cedars beetle-free, contact Fraser Valley Cedars today.