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Pheromones, Pine Beetles, and more about fires.

I talked with the Wyoming Dept. of Forestry today.  Apparently, the state deals with private landowners, not the forest service.  I’m definitely going to go for ordering pheromones for my trees. Paul in the department told me that, yes!, the grizzlies do use the Limber Pine nuts as well as the Pinus albicaulus.  He also told me that because of lack of fires, the Limber Pines have become an invasive on rangeland.  Of course, I don’t have rangeland.  I butt up to a National forest full of Limber Pines from 7000′ all the way up to 8200′ or more.

He said they’ve been doing a lot of management with the North Fork and South Fork, but up till a few years ago, my area was doing okay enough.  “Not anymore” we both acknowledged.  The south facing slopes across from me are full of beetle kill on the ridge tops.  The end of my valley that butts up against the Park is now about 50-70% dead trees. Compare that to the east entrance to the Park (up the North Fork) which is about 90% dead standing timber.

The fires of ’88 came through parts of my valley and through Crandall, which is north of me.  In fact, the tiny town of Crandall was almost entirely engulfed and thanks to a major effort, was saved.  When you drive by Crandall, you can see where the fires came down almost to the town.  Apparently, it was some of the hottest fires.  Now the hillsides are regenerating with Aspens.  Cathedral Cliffs along Chief Joseph Highway

The point is, those fires near me in ’88 helped form a buffer from the pine beetle which spared my area up till now.  But like the economy, those fires of ’88 just ‘kicked the can down the road’, and now my valley’s time is up; due for a big fire.

This winter there’s been logging trucks on my dirt road daily.  The biggest private landowner is logging beetle kill around his property for fire protection.  The Game & Fish clear-cut a big swath of spruce and fir to make way for aspen growth, and the neighbor to my east is cutting and burning beetle kill weekly.  Everyone is aware: its only a matter of time till the fires come this way.

The thing about the blister rust on my trees is that they’ve weakened the pines, along with the many years of drought.  Paul said that usually the rust doesn’t kill the trees, especially in the Rockies due to the dryness.  And I can see that’s true.  These are older pines and surviving despite the brown needles.  But then the pine beetle finishes them off.

This is not a spruce or pine beetle but a wood-eating beetle that eats dead wood. They are scary looking though and BIG!

So I have a choice.  Spray with Sevin or use the Pheromone packets.  The spray lasts for 2 to 3 years.  The Pheromones only one.  But its a no-brainer for me.  I’m just not going to use a non-targeted toxic chemical.  Non-targeted in the sense that it kills beetles, and also other insects that could be beneficial; plus the other types of toxicity.

The pheromones simply are a chemical mimic that tell the beetles “This tree is occupied with beetles already.  Go find another tree.”  If you already have beetles in a tree, neither the chemical nor the pheromones will work.

Paul will come over and look at my property.  Its fairly expensive at $7/packet; but its for a good cause.  What we discussed is instead of just tagging important trees, I’ll do a grid of packets over my 6 acres.  When he comes over, we’ll look at the density and see if I need less than the 30 pkts/acre, which I think I will.  May is the target month to put the packets on the trees.  The beetles fly in July and August.

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6 Responses

  1. Hello. A friend sent me a link to your site … we enjoyed reading your stories – you write beautifully. I have a cabin in the Beartooth Mountains just north of the Wyoming border, and am afraid that the pine bark beetles are beginning a march (or should I say, munch) through my canyon … Am also planning on using pheromones on the trees around the cabin this summer so appreciate reading about your experience. Just wanted to say hello and I’ll check back to read future posts.
    Renee

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    • Hi Renee, visited your blog and you have taken on quite a chunk! Thank you for your comments and appreciation.
      I have been in contact with Paul Marensi, who highly recommended ‘gridding’ the area UNLESS there is evidence of infestation. After inspection and consideration, I think that I will use the pheromones on selective trees that are highly prized i.e. old, good coners, pretty, etc. I’ll keep you updated. My problem is that the white bark rust weakens the trees and makes them vulnerable. But some can fend off the beetles, but they can’t fend off the rust well. Thanks.

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  2. This post really goes to the techology issue, as well.

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  3. […] Beetles, and what to do?New ideas for lawns: Part 1 – Meadow-making with Red Fescuepack rat scatPheromones, Pine Beetles, and more about fires.More Scats and TracksTracks I need help withBats, bats, and more Wyoming batsA surprise walkThe […]

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  4. What would i use to get rid of spruce beetles or pine beetles off of Pine Trees? And how would i tell if the tree is aready inhabited by these types of beetles?

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