Budworm trumps pine beetle in terms of regional forest threat

Kootenays spared the ravages wrought by pine beetle in other parts of the province

The Western Spruce Budworm is more damaging to Southern B.C. forests than the Mountain pine Beetle is.

The Western Spruce Budworm is more damaging to Southern B.C. forests than the Mountain pine Beetle is.

According to an entomologist with the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and natural Resource Operations, we in this part of the province have relatively little to worry about in terms of the beetle which has been the scourge of forests in other parts of B.C.Art Stock says it’s largely our topography which has worked against the mountain pine beetle really making itself at home in these parts.

They’re here alright, just not in sufficient numbers to be able to do a number on the woods the way they have in the Cariboo, for instance.”We have pine beetles and we do get periodic outbreaks,” Stock related in an April 10 conversation with the Castlegar News.

“The last really big one was in the Boundary area in about 1991 or ’92.”Topographic breaks are a regional feature on our side as far as keeping beetle numbers down, so says the expert.”That limits how well the beetle can disperse because there are mountain ranges in their way.”Species selection is another factor… we simply don’t have the high percentage of pine as is found in other regions.

Another hungry pest, maybe not as well known as it once was, is the spruce budworm. It may have a comparably lower profile than the beetle but it can certainly do its share of damage, as evidenced by a “…quite large recent outbreak in the Boundary region.”It’s a defoliator that feeds on, primarily, Douglas fir,” said Stock, relating the scale of the problem – 40,000 hectares between Cranbrook and Grand Forks.

“We’re watching that and are actually planning a controlled application of BTK – a naturally occurring bacteria. We apply that to knock the budworm down.”Stock estimated mid-June as a possible start time for the spraying effort to begin.Back to the pine beetle and the idea of a forecast for the coming season, Stock said.

“We do have models that project what our populations are going to be, but they’re basically re-set every year, based on what we actually find. And they don’t work that well here, partially because the populations don’t behave here quite the way they do in the Central Interior.”