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Pine Beetles in Summit County…Little Pests, Big Impact

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The mountain pine beetle has been working its way through Colorado’s wooded lands for about a decade. The first indications of the infiltration showed up in Grand County, but the insects migrated south and are now evident throughout Summit County. Once they get into a tree, there is nothing to be done except have the tree removed.

However, you can mitigate the spread of pine beetles by having your non-infested trees sprayed starting now through the first week of July—that’s when the adult beetles start attacking non-infested trees. Choose a reputable, experienced company—don’t rely on friends or neighbors or you may end up with infested trees and a huge bill to have them cut down and hauled away (as happened to me). I will be happy to refer you to insect control experts who work in Summit County.

The beetles start their nefarious work by burrowing through the bark of the pine tree. They then lay their eggs in the inner bark (the live layer of the tree). When the larvae hatch, they start to eat the bark and also release a fungus that interferes with the tree’s ability to absorb water and nutrients, eventually killing the tree and turning its needles from green to that rusty red we’ve come to know so well. (Side note…a Breckenridge nursery told me that a woman from a state which will remain unnamed called them and asked if the pretty red pine trees would survive in her area!)

Once the larvae mature, they fly to the next tree and begin the cycle again. That’s why it is imperative for you to have your non-infested trees sprayed. The damaged trees are not only unsightly but they also pose a grave fire danger, especially during our dry summers.

The good news? Summit County real estate prices have not been affected by the pine beetle infestation. Also, this is Mother Nature’s way (not necessarily attractive, but effective) of clearing space for new aspen, spruce and young pine trees.

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