Mountain pine beetle turns trees into firewood
Tim Paine, professor in the UC Riverside Department of Entomology, discussed wood-boring beetles and wildfires during a six-minute interview on The Madeleine Brand Show, which is broadcast on KPCC, Southern California's public radio affiliate.
"It has killed large numbers of trees in the whole range. in some places upwards of 90 percent of the trees are killed by the beetle. Its devastating," Paine said. "You see vast areas of gray ghosts of trees."
Mountain pine beetles bore through the outer bark of the tree and construct their feeding galleries underneath the bark, disrupting water movement through the tree and killing the tree in the process.
Paine said global climate change appears to be extending the mountain pine beetle's range.
"Apparently, in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains, temperatures warmed enough that the beetles are advancing up into higher elevations where they weren't before," Paine said.
Though beetles and fire are part of forests' natural eco-system for millennia, the landscape has been changed by long periods of human fire exclusion. Now, when these areas do burn, the fires are more intense than they would have been otherwise./span>