Mountain pine beetles attack and kill mature pine trees (roughly 80 years and older). Alberta has four native species of pine - lodgepole, jack, limber and whitebark – all of which are all vulnerable to infestation by beetles.

These pests can attack other tree species such as spruce, but do so only when pine is no longer available. They are unable to reproduce within spruce trees, so attacks are not successful.

Learn more about the mountain pine beetle, and the County's provision of verbenone to landowners looking to mitigate infestations.

In 2006 strong winds carried beetles approximately 400 km from central B.C. to the Grande Prairie and Peace River region. In 2009, another inflight from B.C. occurred throughout Grande Prairie, Peace River, Whitecourt and Slave Lake areas.

60 per cent of Alberta’s forests are in the prime MPB susceptibility range of approximately 80 – 120 years old. Normally, only 15 per cent of trees should be in this age range. Effective wildfire control (protection of human values, public safety) in our past contributed to forests showing low diversity in age class.

 

Currently in Alberta more than 1.27 million hectares of forest have sustained some level of MPB damage. This figure represents about 20 percent of the more than six million hectares of forest at risk of MPB infestation.

It is unlikely that MPB will disappear from Alberta’s forests. In some areas of the province, MPB will be an issue that needs to be managed now, and further into the future. Management will continue to be adaptive to respond to current situations.

Prevent the Spread

Albertans living in areas with mountain pine beetle (MPB) can take steps to reduce the impact on their property. While there is no certain prevention against MPB attack, there are some actions you can take to protect pine on your property and prevent further spread.

Keep your trees healthy

MPB are more likely to attack stressed trees. Stressed trees are those that have been topped, poorly pruned, injured, root damaged or suffering from drought.

Remove, thin and diversify pine stands

You can remove or thin pine stands on your property to prevent infestations from building up. Diversifying trees to include non-pine species (native and ornamental) and trees of various age class on your property can help reduce impacts.

Do not transport MPB-infested pine with bark attached

To minimize the risk of spreading beetle to uninfested areas, debark infested pine logs prior to transport. Transport of logs and other forest products cut from coniferous trees are regulated under provincial legislation. Directives can be viewed at www.mpb.alberta.ca.</p>

Pine beetle pitch tubes on pine tree trunk (click to enlarge)
Verbenone pouch attached to pine tree (click to enlarge)

Pheromone Repellents (Verbenone)

The County carries a product called Verbenone, used in spot applications to help prevent beetles from attacking valued trees. Verbenone pouches can be attached to specific high value trees chosen to be protected. Verbenone is an anti-aggregation pheromone used to prevent attacks on healthy pine trees. It is not a pesticide, but a naturally-occurring chemical that mimics a heavily infested tree. As a consequence, beetles may avoid attacking trees treated with this pheromone.

Verbenone can be purchased from the County for $10/pouch (including GST) payable by credit card in advance. Please call ahead to reserve and pay for your order. Verbenone orders will be available for pickup at the County administration office on Tuesday, June 9 from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm.

To consult with the County about verbenone, or to book a purchase, please contact Lac Ste. Anne County Horticulturist Lorraine Taylor at 780.203.2968 or ltaylor (@) LSAC.ca. Please consult the Verbenone Use Guidelines for details on using verbenone for protection.

More Mountain Pine Beetle Mitigation Resources

Click the links below to view fact sheets, verbenone usage huidelines and other information on preventing or mitigating mountain pine beetle infestations.

Please note that the products and activities listed in the reference documents below are not guaranteed to prevent or stop a mountain pine beetle attack. Consult a local tree professional in your area for advice.

Pitch tube on bark crevice (click to enlarge)