Residents enjoying one of Prince George’s many parks who come across a strange-looking brown bubble pouch attached to a tree need not worry – it’s not garbage or an odd tree growth. These plastic membranes contain an important pheromone that is helping to protect the tree from spruce beetles.
This year, the City of Prince George and Province of BC are taking particular care to protect trees in Prince George due to increasing numbers of spruce beetle, which are becoming a rising problem for trees in our area due to changes in weather patterns in recent years. According to the BC Government, More than 350,000 hectares of forest in north central B.C. are infested by spruce beetles, which is considered much higher than normal.
Staff are using a pheromone called MCH, which is naturally produced by beetles to let other beetles know that a tree is “occupied,” thereby tricking beetles into leaving healthy trees alone. MCH has been commercially produced in Canada for nearly three decades. The substance is packed into a small plastic membrane that looks like a little balloon, which diffuses it into the surrounding area in much the same way and at the same rate as if it was released by beetles.
The week, city and provincial government staff worked to attach the pouches to trees in Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park, Connaught Hill Park, Rainbow Park, Memorial Park Cemetery, and to the blue spruce trees found near Highways 16 and 97. Typically, the pouches must be attached to trees by the end of April to be effective, but this year’s long winter allowed the period to be extended into May. Beetles are expected to begin leaving their host tree and to start trying to infest new trees within the next week.
MCH is being supplied to the city as part of a program initiated by the BC Government. Residents wishing to learn more about how they can protect trees from spruce beetle on their own properties, can find additional information on the BC Government website.