Bark Beetles

Let us know if you would like your property inspected for Mountain Pine and IPS beetles in the Spring of 2015. See below!!

In keeping with an overall Larimer County effort to combat this serious problem, the RFL Beetle Team has adopted the name of the Larimer County Team. We are now calling ourselves the Beetle Busters!! Free inspections for beetle infestations should be scheduled early in the Spring, after the snow is largely gone and before June 1. Inspections can be performed again after mid-September until the weather gets too cold. Inspections will not be performed from July 1 through September, since the beetles will be flying and the inspections are not valid during that period. We are trying to prevent Red Feather from looking like Grand and Summit Counties. We cannot protect the National Forest, but we can greatly help our individual properties.

An excellent tutorial on this pest is available at: Dave Leatherman Presentation

Use the following address to request an inspection, ask a question, or volunteer to help our Red Feather Lakes Beetle Team. You may also contact us by phone at 970-881-2925. (Leave a message if there is no answer.)

About These Beetles -

Colorado is still experiencing an epidemic of bark beetles, both the familiar Mountain Pine Beetle and the Ips Beetle. These tiny creatures can kill a tree in a year. Each infested tree can produce enough new beetles to kill from three to ten more trees the next year. Foresters project that in Colorado’s heavily infested lodgepole pine forests west of the continental divide, the beetle epidemic will be over in a few years. The reason? There may be no more live mature lodgepoles for the beetles to kill.

As you probably know, the beetles also are attacking ponderosa and lodgepole pines east of the continental divide, along Colorado’s Front Range. (Indeed, the latin name for the mountain pine beetle is: Dendroctonus

ponderosae.) In Red Feather, most of our pines are ponderosa. We have some limber pines, which unfortunately seem to be a preferred target for the beetles. If you have limber pines, get them sprayed in June if you want to have a good chance of saving them. Experts suggest that preventive steps on your property – such as thinning ponderosa stands and dealing with infested trees before new beetles emerge – can reduce ponderosa losses and leave our area with more living trees when this epidemic has run its course.

An excellent publication titled: A Northern Front Range Landowner Guide To Living With Bark Beetles was inserted into RFL mailboxes in early January, 2010. It offers a lot of helpful background. In the event you missed it, here is a copy:


Following the practices of volunteer groups along the Front Range, some Red Feather Lakes neighbors last year formed the RFL Beetle Team to help area landowners learn how to improve our odds of still having a beautiful area after this epidemic is over.

If you invite the Beetle Team to your property, one or more members will respond, tools at the ready. They will appraise the general health of your part of the forest and look at individual trees for indications of beetles and dwarf mistletoe infestation. You will get a report and recommendations. It’s free. No obligation.


Each July through September, mature mountain pine beetles will emerge from infested trees and fly to healthy ones. Inspecting your trees for infestation signs is important from October until mid-June, although waiting until June will not allow much time to remedy a problem. If in cold weather you find a minor infestation (five or fewer “hits”), it may be possible to save the tree, by digging the beetles out before they make their egg galleries. (Note that beetle hits can be as high as thirty feet off the ground, making individual beetle removal very difficult.) As the weather warms, beetle growth speeds up and chances of saving an infested tree decreases. Timely steps can also help protect healthy trees on your land, by thinning dense ponderosa stands. This improves the health of the remaining trees and makes it more likely that the trees will repel an attack. Beetle Team members can help you with these decisions.


Send email to: to schedule an inspection or to join the Volunteer Team. You may also contact us by phone at 970-881-2668. (Leave a message if there is no answer. This number is at Fox Acres.)

Meanwhile, if you spot a dead or dying tree on your land, or a trunk bearing clusters of white or reddish tree sap shaped a little like popcorn, PLEASE DON’T JUST CUT IT DOWN! Any young beetles growing inside don’t care if they’re vertical or horizontal. They will still hatch and fly this summer unless the tree is felled and the trunk is treated, either by prolonged solar exposure, stripping off all bark, chipping of the entire trunk or timely transport of de-limbed trunk segments to a county-approved sort-yard, such as the one scheduled to open here in RFL on Creedmore Lakes Rd. in April. Our clinic will offer details about these proven measures.

Once you’ve identified a beetle issue on your property, you may wish to employ a local forestry professional to assist you with mitigation.

Forestry Contractors 5_2010

Below is an interesting set of facts assembled by forestry consultant Bruce Benninghoff.  Bruce is a very experienced consultant and has been following pine beetle problems for a number of years.  You will find this information very helpful we believe:





by Bruce Benninghoff


September 2009



Mountain Pine Beetle Dynamics in Lodgepole Pine Forests, Part II: Population Dynamics


by Gene D. Amman and Walter Cole, General Technical Report INT-145, July 1983


The Mountain Pine Beetle: A Synthesis of Biology, Management, and Impacts on Lodgepole Pine


Edited by Les Safranyik and Bill Wilson, Canadian Forest Service 2006


This collection of knowledge about the beetle was inspired by Sun Zi Bing Fa who wrote the ART of WAR in the 6th century BC.  He is quoted as saying:




If you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a thousand battles without a single loss

In learning more about the mountain pine beetle we seek to identify the vulnerabilities of each stage in the life cycle and how to disrupt it. By learning the habit conditions that are optimal for the beetle, we can focus on opportunities to reduce the suitability of the habitat.

Life Cycle:

Emergence from host tree occurs during warm part of the day. Above 60F

Beetles will spend the night in bark furrows if cool. If warm enough they will bore in overnight.

Emergence slows in temps above 90F

Emergence is quicker from thick phloem trees.

Cool temps (60F), higher elevations, and thick phloem tend to produce larger beetles with greater lipid content (fat & energy).

Larger diameter trees tend to have thicker phloem and thereby larger beetles

In the absence of pheromones, the newly emerged adults fly with the wind. They will fly against the wind to follow a pheromone trail.

They tend to fly above understory vegetation and below the crowns. However, 2.5 to 5.0% fly above tree top level.

Beetles can be drawn into bait trees (using trans-verbenol), but they will attack nearby trees if they are larger. They seem to target large trees visually, but select thick phloem trees by olfactory stimulus (monoterpenes).

Successful mass attacks usually occur within a 48 hour period after the initial attack. Mass attacks seem to be able to shut down the tree’s defensive response.

They tend to attack north or cool sides of the tree first.

Females in trees that were not mass attacked sometimes abandoned their galleries.

“If a male gets in the way of the female, she kills him and packs him along with the boring dust into the bottom of he gallery.” (pg 19, Ammons and Cole)

Ventilation tunnels are sometimes constructed and are at irregular intervals and extend to just beneath the bark surface.

Males do not always hang around to help with gallery clean-out after mating.

The typical number of eggs per inch of gallery is 4.2 to 5.9. The typical gallery is 12″ with 75 eggs. The extreme is 50″ of gallery with 200 eggs.

Eggs laid per day ranges from 2 to 8. It is influenced by phloem thickness. If phloem is thin they have to work harder to construct gallery partially into sap wood, resulting in fewer eggs.

Optimum temperature for egg hatch in the lab is from 69 to 77F. Eggs hatched in 8.4 days at 68F. It can take as long as 36 days at 50F. Eggs die at just below 0F.

Eggs laid per inch of gallery, eggs laid per day, and gallery inches per day all seem to peak around 68F.

Expect about 1.4″ of larval gallery in 3 weeks after hatch.

The larva go through 4 stages of development called instars. First instar larva start to die when temperatures exceed 86F.

Synchronicity is promoted by early stage instars (1 & 2) developing faster at lower temperatures than late stage instars (3&4). This allows late arrivals to catch up with early arrivals. It also prevents most larva from developing into 4th instar or pupa stage before winter. That would lead to high mortality because they are more vulnerable to cold temperatures in those stages.

Nematodes and fungi are principal mortality factors for eggs.

Nematodes and a fly Medetera aldrichii, are the most important predators of eggs. Clerid beetle adults and larva prey on MPB adults and larva. Predators including woodpeckers are not effective control agents during epidemics because their populations do not build up as rapidly as the beetle population.

Intraspecific competition is one of the largest control factors. Larva will kill, but not necessarily consume, each other if they cross paths. Temperature and early spring drying are also important. Development requires 90% humidity under the bark.

Pupation normally takes 2 to 4 weeks.

Teneral (callow) adults require one to two weeks to mature and be capable of emergence and dispersal.



RFL Beetle Team Inspection Forms: