Chapter 4.2: Bark Beetle Infestation

Some of the worst environmental damage can be done by some of the least likely suspects. That’s certainly the case with the mountain pine beetle (MPB) (Dendroctonous ponderosae), a small, weevil-like insect with a taste for pines, including lodgepole, ponderosa, jack and Scotch varieties. Only about 5 mm long, about the size of a grain of rice, MPBs have affected tens of millions of acres of forest from the US West Coast through the Rocky Mountains. While bark beetles are native to US forests and play important ecological roles, they can cause extensive tree mortality. Climate change has led to an increase in these damaging effects. This increase is correlated with changes in temperature and increased water stress, which create conditions within trees that are favorable for beetle survival and growth.


Background Materials:

For an excellent overview of the mountain pine beetle, go to this link:
and of bark beetles generally:

For general information about the various effects of pine beetle infestations, visit

Textbook References and Links:
Exercise 1:  Climate change and bark beetles: Bentz et al. 2010

Exercise 6:  Kurz et al. article on the interaction between climate change and MPB:
and Moore et al. article:

Exercise 8:  USFS forest pest conditions viewer:

Exercise 9:    Mountain Pine Beetle Risk Rating:

Exercise 10:  the USFS Management Guide for Mountain Pine Beetles
Downloadable data and files:

Exercise 1:  Bentz 2010.pdf

Exercise 6: Kurtz 2008.pdf and Moore 2013.pdf

Exercise 9: McMahan 2002.pdf

Exercise 10: MPB Management 2010.pdf