Yukon beetle infestation slowing
Insect killing itselt off by destroying own forest habitat
The spruce beetle infestation in the region of Haines Junction, Yukon is petering out.
Rob Legare, from the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, looks after the territory's forest health program. At its peak in 2004, the beetles destroyed about 5,000 hectares.
Legare said this year the insect ate through only about 500 hectares.
Legare said the beetle has basically killed itself off.
"They’re basically eating themselves out of house and home, and as they do that their population, their brood success, is less and less every year," he said. "It’s coming to that point where it’ll be at the endemic level in a year or two."
Legare said most of the beetles are in isolated spots and living on tree roots, which is where predators find them.
"The major predator at this point is squirrels," Legare said. "Squirrels are getting in at the roots of those trees and going after the larvae and having a bit of a meal."
The cold weather has also helped to kill off the insect.
In 2004, the beetles destroyed an area of forest about two-thirds the size of Prince Edward Island in southwestern Yukon.