Posted 8:37 PM 2/28/2013 : Spruce Beetles attack trees in Southern Colorado
The Spruce Beetle is a relatively recent and deadly addition to the Rocky Mountain region, especially for mature spruce trees.
We've already seen the damage in Northern Colorado, and now many trees in the southern portion of our state are in danger of attack.
We found out more about what the Forest Service is calling a spreading epidemic.
The Spruce Beetle leaves behind little signs on the trees.
"They're leaving small pitchtubes, something we call boring dust or frass," said Alex Rudney of the U.S. Forest Service.))
But the real damage may not be seen for one to two years.
"The needles will turn brown and fall off, and the trees will die," said Rudney.
Usually the beetles focus on downed trees.
"What we're finding now are beetles in standing trees that we hadn't found before," said Rudney.
We've already seen them north of us, and the epidemic is spreading.
"Around Monarch Pass, Marshall Pass, and all the way down towards the Spanish Peaks around La Veta," said Rudney. "Down the Sangre de Cristo Mountains here."
It's mainly happening at higher elevations around 9000-12000 feet.
"What we're most worried about is the people living in that elevation range, and the public lands, and the infrastructure of those areas," said Rudney.
And once a tree is infested, nothing can be done to save it.
"We're likely to see a large swath of Spruce trees become infested and die over the next couple of years, although nothing is for certain," said Rudney.
And with a year of drought and high fire danger ahead of us, this little creature is poised to create a big problem.
If you believe you've seen Spruce Beetle damage, contact the U.S. Forest Service.
Click here for contact information.