Field surveys indicate a higher than anticipated mountain pine beetle winter mortality rate has provided the province with leverage against the invasive species.
“With the exception of a few hot spots in the north and west, the survival rate of the beetles was low,” said Minister of Sustainable Resources Mel Knight.
The surveys were conducted at over 200 sites around the province, and involved taking bark samples from 1266 trees and counting the number of surviving larvae in the samples.
Sustainable Resources Public Affairs Officer Duncan MacDonnell said the warm weather in early spring caused beetles in some areas to convert their natural antifreeze to energy in preparation for spring flight, only to be hit with cold weather in the late spring, when their defenses were down.
“You can really point to mother nature for giving us a helping hand,” said MacDonnell.
Despite the good news, Knight—who likens the province to a war zone—said that the high rate of mortality means the province must push harder against the pests.
“It gives us a cushion so we can go to work and be more successful,” said Knight. “We are still under a fairly serious threat in certain areas of the province for in-flight of beetles from B.C.”
The minister said there are few viable options to prevent in-flight once it occurs.
“We’re at the mercy of, again, nature, and it depends on prevailing winds and when the beetles decide to move out and look for a new host.”