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Even Paradise had its serpent. Our paradise has bark beetles: Mountain Pine, IPS, Douglas Fir and Turpentine Beetles - all active in the Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District and threatening our forest.

What to Look For:

  1. Popcorn-size “pitch tubes” on Ponderosas (pitch tubes will usually be 3 to 15 feet high for Mountain Pine Beetles, in the crown for Ips, and near ground level for Turpentine Beetles). The resinous pitch tubes are the tree’s attempt to get rid of the beetle by pitching it out.
  2. Change in tree color – tree turns lighter green, then rust red. An Ips infestation may be first visible by a loss of needles in the upper branches and/or lots of bird activity, especially woodpeckers.
  3. Frass (boring dust) caught in the bark or around the base of the tree.
  4. Blue/gray stain in the wood under the bark (diagnostic for bark beetles and a death sentence for the tree).

What to Do if You Find Bark Beetles:

The tree must be cut down and treated before the next generation of beetles flies. Once in the tree, the beetles don’t care if the tree is vertical or horizontal. High rise condo or ranch style, as long as they can keep their happy home under the bark they will continue to produce their next generation, which will fly and kill 3 – 10 more trees for each tree infested. So it’s important to remove the happy home – the habitat.

  • Best way: Strip the bark from the trunk. The Fire Department’s Mitigation Program has tools to do this.
  • Next best way: Have the wood carted far, far away from any pines or firs.
  • Not so good ways, but better than nothing:  Solar or diesel treatment. Get advice from the Fire Department’s Mitigation Program, the Beetle Busters or the Colorado State Forest Service, as these methods must be done right to be at all effective.
  • Prevention: Spraying can protect your trees. It must be done annually by a qualified contractor. Thinning the overcrowded trees to create a healthy forest is the best long-term prevention.
  • Timing is important: Mountain Pine Beetles typically fly some time between mid July to mid September. Ips can have four generations a year and can fly as soon as the temperature consistently hits 50 degrees. Douglas Fir and Turpentine Beetles fly in the spring. So identifying the beetle is important. Ask for help!

And Help is Available!

  • The Beetle Busters: Free consultation by volunteers. Send e-mail here.
  • The BMFPD Mitigation Department: Free consultation.
    Ask for Mike Palamara (303-440-0235) or e-mail here.
  • The Colorado State Forest Service: $75 consultation by a forester (303-823-5774)

Additional Resources (click on an attached form)


Letter to Owner - Results of BeetleBusters Inspection62.14 KB
Forest Health Inspection Permission Form25.27 KB