Tree Killers: Mountain Pine Beetle

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  • Common English name: Mountain Pine Beetle
  • Other names: “MPB”, Mountain Pine Beetle
  • Latin (scientific) name: Dendroctonus ponderosae

Threat type

150x150 insects

History in Canada

  • The current outbreak began in 1996.
  • Mountain pine beetle is a native insect found in western North America.
  • Under normal population levels, Mountain pine beetle does play an important role in a forest’s ecosystem. By attacking weakened and old trees, they speed up the regeneration of a younger forest. In the past, cold winters have kept their numbers in check.
  • Hot, dry summers in central B.C. and Alberta and mild winters have led to unprecedented population growth and range expansion.


  • It is dark coloured and approximately the size of a grain of rice.
  • This beetle lives most of its life in pine trees, including lodgepole
  • the beetle has a one-to-two-year life cycle and can overwinter as egg, larva, pupa, or adult

Impact on Trees

  • In mid-summer, large numbers of adult female beetles attack new trees by boring through the bark to the sapwood. They construct vertical galleries in the phloem between the bark and the sapwood where, after the males join them, they mate and the females deposit their eggs.
  • These eggs hatch into legless larvae that feed outwards from the vertical galleries on the tissue of the host tree.
  • larvae feed on living tissue by tunneling below the bark of limbs and the trunk
  • Since 1996, Mountain pine beetle has caused the destruction of millions of acres of pine trees in North America

What can be done to control this tree killer?

  • In 2010, Tree Canada launched #OperationReLeaf: Alberta Mountain Pine Beetle in an attempt to fight the spread of this tree killer.
  • If you live in Alberta, become familiar about the pine tree(s) in your backyard or nearby forests. Take note if you notice changes to the health of your trees, including the reddening of needles and other dramatic changes.
  • You can apply for a grant to treat your trees from Tree Canada under our #OperationReLeaf: Alberta Mountain Pine Beetle program.
  • Get help. Contact the authorities in your area if you do detect an infestation of MPB in your trees, including your municipality.

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