Some insects feast on burnt trees after wildfires. Experts worry they could cause further destruction

By Michelle Gomez
CBC News
September 17, 2023
Category: Forestry
Region: Canada, Canada West

As wildfires intensify, experts worry tree-destroying insect populations may grow in their aftermath. As burnt trees take up more space in B.C. forests, so do insects that feast off of them, like wood borers and bark beetles — including the Douglas fir beetle and western pine beetle. “Firefighters are busy during fires, and then the entomologists get busy afterwards,” said Lorraine Maclauchlan, entomologist with B.C.’s Ministry of Forests. Bark-destroying insects are attracted to dead and weakened trees that have been ravaged by fire, and while these insects are important for the natural decomposition of burnt trees, Maclauchlan says if they grow in population too rapidly, they can cause serious damage by going after live trees. …Maclauchlan says intense drought across the province this year is an added wrinkle: there are many trees that are alive but weakened by drought, that are the perfect target for the insects.

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