Mountain Pine Beetle
The Mountain Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) is a naturally occurring bark beetle native to western North America. It is about the size of a grain of rice. Under normal population levels, the beetles help to keep the forest’s ecosystem in check by attacking weak and old pine trees. This allows younger pine to regenerate. Historically, cold winters have helped to manage the MPB population. However, since 1996, beetle populations have flourished and continue to move eastward across Canada. Large populations mean more host trees are needed. As beetle populations move eastward looking for new hosts, they are assisted by strong winds, which can carry them into new territory. Large inflights due to strong winds in 2006 and 2009 did just that - carrying beetles approximately 400 km from central B.C. to the Grande Prairie and Peace River regions, as well as Whitecourt and Slave Lake areas, destroying pine forests along the way.