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Is the fight against the MPB worth engaging?

It sometimes feels like we are in a losing battle against the Mountain Pine Beetle. Mountain sides have turned red and been left dead from this insect. Treatments work very well in areas that have the highest levels of infestation. The one benefit that is stemming from this epidemic is the increased awareness of the need for proper forest management. While we will not be able to save every tree from this insect, through a variety of treatments we can strengthen your forest for a natural fight against future forest ailments.

Does preventive spraying work?

Spraying can be very effective if implemented correctly. We average a 95% effectiveness with our spraying efforts. Heavily infested areas in unhealthy forest stands will experience a lower level of effectiveness. Spraying has sometimes received a poor report due to improper applications(Applicator Error) usually implemented by unqualified applicators.

Can I burn infested trees to kill the beetles?

Burning trees infested with beetles will definitely kill the beetles in the tree. However, most currently infested trees are too green to burn effectively.

How cold does it need to be to kill the Beetles?

The most recent studies suggest that temperatures of -40 degrees F for at least 7 days are required to have any effect on beetle populations. The beetles metabolize an alcohol called glycerol inside the tree that’s acts as antifreeze, protecting them during the colder winter months.

Is wrapping infested trees in plastic effective?

Our experience has shown this method of killing beetles has limited effectiveness. The idea is sound, but reaching a high enough temperature inside the plastic requires many days of direct sunlight and some physical labor rotating the wood inside the plastic. There are a few different ways to kill the beetles living in an infested. Our recommendation is to strip the bark of the tree or insure the logs will be heading to a wood mill. Infested trees can be chipped which will ensure all beetles and larvae are killed.

Is this current MPB epidemic natural?

Mountain Pine Beetles along with other species of bark beetles are a natural part of a healthy forest ecosystem. Because of the severe drought Colorado has seen in the past the current MPB epidemic is is now spreading at a rapid rate. We are continually surprised at the rate we are seeing the MPB spread every year. Poor forest management, drought and global climate change are reasons of what has brought this infestation to the current epidemic level.

What is the minimum size diameter trees beetles will attack?

The standards for size and species of trees that are being infested by MPB are continually changing. In highly infested areas we have seen MPB infest trees with a 2 inch diameter trunk. In these high impacted areas we are also seeing the MPB infest other conifer species such as Blue and Engelmann spruce in highley infested areas. These trees are being killed by the blue stain fungus that is introduced with the beetle attacks. There are different bark beetle species that are infesting these conifer species as well.

What to do with my stumps?

Stumps are unwanted nuisances to many people. Unfortunately, when you have to cut down a tree, you are left with these unsightly reminders. Whether you want to pay to have the stump removed or go with a more cost-effective method of removal, you can rid yourself of the stumps left behind. There are ways to remove the stump, so all is not lost.

Cost Effective Removal

The roots of the tree will continue to feed the stump. If you pour Epson Salt on the roots and stump, the salt will kill the roots. Rock Salt or “ice cream salt” will also kill the remains of a stump. You may have to cut the stump to the ground, then put the salt on the stump and cover it with dirt, but this should remove the stump. You can buy a product from your farm supply store or co-op. This product contains bacteria that will eventually cause the stump to rot or decay.

Chopping the stump repeatedly and setting it on fire can kill the stump. Once the stump is on fire, continue adding long burning items (rubber, wood, etc.) until the stump is burned away. If the stump is small, chop it repeatedly until it is nearly mush. Leave the stump alone for a few days, and then you can dig the stump up out of the ground.

Cut the stump back as far as you can, and cover it with a black plastic feed store bucket. You will need to put something on top of the bucket to keep it from blowing off. Keeping light from the stump will keep it from re-sprouting, and the stump will die.

If you would like to take a more natural approach to stump removal, start by drilling holes in the stumps. After you drill the holes, fill them with a high nitrogen fertilizer. If you keep the stump moist, the nitrogen will feed the fungi, which naturally decomposes wood. Building a compost pile over the stump will speed up the decomposing process as well.

If you are not in a hurry, there is a more decorative removal option. Hollow out the stumps, fill them with potting soil, and use them as planters. The stumps will last only a few years as you water and fertilize the plants. The stumps will eventually decompose.

Chemical and Professional Removal

Caustic Soda (sodium hydroxide) solution will kill a tree stump. This product can be found at any hardware/paint shop. Make a solution of 1 part Caustic Soda and 2 parts water, and pour the solution over the tree stump. You might have to apply the solution 3 or 4 times before the stump is completely removed.

You can hire a professional who owns a stump grinder. They will come and grind the stump into sawdust. You can the use the sawdust for mulch. You will need soil to fill in the hole left by the stump.