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Engraver Beetle

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Engraver Beetle

Engraver Beetle Ips engraver beetles kill more pine timber in the South than any other forest insect, with the exception of the southern pine beetle. Ips beetles usually attack injured, dying, or recently felled trees and fresh logging debris. Infestations are particularly common in trees weakened by drought or lightning strikes.

Engraver Beetle

Engraver Beetle


Adult beetles are dark red-brown to almost black and 1/8 inch to 1/5 inch (3 to 5 mm) long. They are distinguished from other bark beetles by their scooped-out posterior with 4 to 6 spines on each side. Larvae have white bodies with orange-brown heads and are legless. Pupae are waxy-white and similar to adults in size


Life Cycle: Adult beetles overwinter in duff layer of forest floor and emerge in early spring to attack slash (recent logging debris, windthrown trees, freshly cut firewood, damaged trees, etc). Males attract multiple females and each constructs an egg gallery under the bark. Eggs hatch and larvae feed in radiating galleries, becoming adults in less than two months. This generation of adults emerge from under the bark and seek fresh slash material but if none is available, will attack small diameter trees or the tops of larger trees. There are two to three generations of engraver beetles in Montana, depending on temperature and precipitation.


Trees weakened by drought, disease, overcrowding, or mechanical damage are most vulnerable to attack. Males initiate attacks and release chemical messengers to attract females. Adult beetles create tunnels under the bark called egg galleries. Females lay eggs alongside their galleries. White, grublike larvae hatch and feed in their own larval.


Damage: Fading foliage high in the tree is often the first sign of a beetle attack. Needles change from green to a light straw color within a few weeks after attack and eventually become yellowish brown. Upon closer inspection, a fine boring dust can be seen in bark crevices and at the base of the tree. Occasionally, small, pink popcorn-shaped resin deposits pitch tubes appear on the trunk of live trees that have been attacked.


Engraver Beetle Damage

Engraver Beetle Damage

Controls: Beetle populations can be reduced by removing recently killed trees, those still holding yellow or red needles, from the stand before the beetle flight in June. Remove injured or decadent true fir that might provide breeding material for the fir engraver beetle. Poor crown condition and live crown ratios have been associated with susceptibility to engraver beetle attack in white fir and red fir.


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