BLACK FOREST – A long time Black Forest, Colorado resident says the warning about a possible Ips Beetle infestation is more than a theory. She says it happened with similar conditions back in 2003. “We had green branches down all over the place,” said Judy von Ahlefeldt. It happened during a March blizzard that year. This year a lot of trees are down after another March blizzard.
The nearly 50 year resident of Black Forest has a master’s degree in entomology, the study of insects. She also owned and operated the Black Forest News for years. She went to the paper archives, to show what happened in 2003.
There are pictures of downed trees. A few weeks later another picture of beetles on damaged branches. “It’s probably a half inch or less and there are 1,2,3,4,5 beetles lined up going into it to mate,” said von Ahlefeldt. The population of beetles kept growing. The paper then documented damaged and dead trees from the infestation.
The show and tell is more than a history lesson. All the downed trees from this year’s blizzard are the potential start of another Ips beetle population boom. “Because the Ips have many generations within one season they can do it fast,” said von Ahlefeldt, “They don’t take several years to build up to a high amount.”
The difference this time, is all the newly planted trees put in just a few years back after the Black Forest wildfire. “We’re putting in transplanted trees and that’s one of their favorite meals.”
It is not a helpless situation. The beetles go to the green branches, especially if the tree is down and compromised. Cutting off the branches and chipping them during April and early May takes away the breeding ground for bugs.
Cut branches now. Black Forest will have chipping available at the first of May..