Pine beetle making a comeback in the Inland Northwest - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Pine beetle making a comeback in the Inland Northwest

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SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. -

They’re so small you can barely see them, but the pine beetle can cause huge problems if ignored.

Take the Black Hills of Western South Dakota for example, where the Mountain Pine Beetle has destroyed tens of thousands of acres of pine trees.

Pine beetles aren’t destroying forests in the Inland Northwest, but Department of Natural Resources Forester, Guy Gifford, says they are making a comeback.

“We have seen a significant increase in the last year,” said Gifford. “We saw a fair amount of trees dying in the Newman Lake area and scattered throughout Northern Spokane County.”

Gifford says while certain species of the pine beetle are widespread throughout the county, the DNR isn’t seeing them in large concentrations.

“Two to three trees here, two to three trees there.”

That’s good news for the DNR, who say pine beetles can leave large areas of dead trees in their path, creating fuel for fire.

“This is a result of the drought we’ve been in,” said Gifford. “Our trees are more stressed.”

Gifford says pine beetles will infest dead or damaged trees first, and there are a lot of them in the area following the November Windstorm and two years of drought.

Gifford also says pine beetles will attack the tops of trees first. Once weakened, larger species will target the base of the tree.

“Once the tree is red, the beetle is gone,” said Gifford.

The DNR says if landowners think they have a pine beetle infestation on their property, they can call them at (509) 684-7474 for a free inspection.

Signs of pine beetles include small areas of sawdust on the bark.

Arborists say to prevent the spread of beetles, cover slash piles with plastic, chip dead trees, and keep live trees watered.

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