The Mountain Pine Beetle

The tiny mountain pine beetle, (dentroctonus pondersae) is about the size of
a grain of rice and lives under the bark of mostly pine trees. They favor Lodgepole, Ponderosa, and Western White Pine. As the beetles feed under the bark, they cut off nutrients and water to the tree. Beetles bring fungi that break down the sugars in sap and give it the blue stain. The tree dies with no apparent degradation to the wood. The dead trees are susceptible to bugs and rot within 2-3 years.  The mountain pine beetle has affected millions of acres of forest in Montana and throughout the west.

Common Misconceptions

  • Although the beetle kills the tree, the  wood is not affected, and is actually enhanced with the “blue-stained” appearance that results from a fungi carried by the beetles. The wood has no holes or rot in it, and the fungus leaves only the blue stain.

  • Removal of the dead trees and processing the wood does not spread the beetle. By the time we harvest the trees, the beetles have moved on to live trees.


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