British Columbia

Forestry service advising property owners to apply MCH repellent as Douglas fir beetles move on B.C. Interior

Instances of Douglas fir beetles harming B.C., Interior forests are on the rise, particularly in the Cariboo region.

Forest consultants recommend MCH repellent for tree-eating insects that begin attacking trees in early summer

UBC Forestry professor Lori Daniels pulls back burnt bark in search of the Douglas fir bark beetle in 2018. (Greg Rasmussen/CBC)

B.C. is no stranger to destructive insects — the mountain pine beetle infestation has decimated forests throughout the province and nationwide.

But right now, researchers are urging the public to protect their trees from a different pest: the Douglas fir beetle.

Instances of Douglas fir beetles harming B.C., Interior forests are on the rise, particularly in the Cariboo region.

The bugs tend to attack dying trees impacted by wildfires or drought, but when populations increase, they go after healthy forests.

Because they usually start eating the trees in the early summer, the Industrial Forestry Service, one of the larger natural resource consulting firms in B.C., suggests the public begin applying a special repellent to their trees now.

"It's spreading pretty quickly" IFS researcher Serena Black told CBC.

Douglas fir beetles eat both dead and healthy trees in B.C.'s Interior. (B.C. Government)

Though there are multiple ways to deal with Douglas fir beetles, Black recommends property owners use MCH repellent, which replicates the beetles' pheromones to signal to other bugs that the tree is full, and there isn't enough food for more bugs to join.

The repellent protects individual trees which, Black says, works well for people on rural or suburban properties who want to prevent an infestation.

However, this only works if the repellent is applied in a very precise time frame — two weeks before the beetle moves in on trees.

"It's very, very important that you get these pods out by the end of April," Black said.

The repellent comes in the form of a small, square bubble pack pod that gets stapled to trees of concern.

"It is really good at repelling those beetles away from the trees on your property and in ensuring that they don't get infested," Black said.

With files from Daybreak North

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