News

Remove all beetle-killed pines

Judie Steeves

staff reporter

There was an increase in the number of pine trees infested and killed last year by pine beetles in Kelowna, so efforts are well underway to remove and dispose of them before the new generation of insects emerge this year.

Blair Stewart, the City of Kelowna’s urban forest technician says they have already removed 1,000 trees killed by beetles from large city parks such a Knox Mountain, and work will continue to safely dispose of all remaining beetle-infested trees before the first flight of new insects.

The Western pine beetle, which infests only ponderosa pine trees is expected to occur around the end of April or early May, while the mountain pine beetle’s first flight is not expected until mid-July.

It will infest any species of pine tree.

A late spring can delay the first flight as they take longer to mature, noted Stewart, and they could be more predation by other insects, so cooler weather helps to combat the devastating insect.

This year, Stewart said they have 2,000 seedling ponderosa pines and some Douglas firs which will be planted this spring with the assistance of the federal Skills and Partnership Fund.

Those will be used to replace trees that have been removed from city-owned land such as in Knox Mountain Park.

A further 5,000 seedlings have been ordered for planting this fall, so there will be more planted than removed. However, he said there’s considerable seedling mortality, particularly on sunny, south-facing slopes.

Seed for the trees was collected from city trees, so it is adapted for this climate and location.

Mostly pines have been selected because pines are a key factor in the valley’s ecosystem.

Forecasts for beetle damage in this part of the province have been reduced, from an estimated 80 per cent to 60 per cent, which is good news.

Stewart feels that’s partly because there’s more diversity of tree species in this part of the province, which makes it more difficult for the beetles to spread.

The city does no work on private properties, but Stewart says he hopes they are setting a good example for private property owners, by removing trees. Infested trees should be taken to the landfill to be chipped before the beetles, which are currently larvae underneath the bark, emerge as adults to fly to infest new trees and kill them.

He asks that homeowners monitor their pine trees for beetle infestation and remove them. For more information, go to the city’s website at: http://www.kelowna.ca/CM/page1077.aspx

or call the city's Pine Beetle Hotline at 250 469-8457.

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com

 

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