Beetle Facts - Mountain Pine Beetle in Alberta

What is the mountain pine beetle?

The Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins is a small bark beetle about 4.0-7.5 mm in length. Commonly known as the mountain pine beetle (MPB), it is the most destructive pest of mature pine forests in North America.

When beetle populations are small, they prefer stressed, mature or over-mature (80+ years) pine. As populations grow, any pine over 12.5 centimetres in diameter can be killed - even healthy trees.

They are capable of attacking and killing all species of pine including:
  • lodgepole
  • jack
  • ponderosa
  • whitebark
  • limber
  • Scots
Cold Fact

The temperature at which beetles start to die is not fixed, but varies given the larvae's response to daily temperature fluctuations.

MPB kills pine trees by clogging and destroying the conductive tissue of the tree by introducing a blue-stain fungi when attacking the tree. Its larvae feed in the phloem of the tree. The action of blue-stain fungi and larval feeding can kill the tree within one month of the attack.
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This information published to the web on March 1, 2016.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 21, 2018.