The scent of stress: understanding links between fire-injured pine and red turpentine beetles can aid postfire management.
The red turpentine beetle (Dendroctonus valens) is native to North America and attacks stressed, dying, or recently dead pine trees, especially fire-injured ponderosa pine. State and federal agencies use baited traps to detect, monitor, and manage populations of native and nonnative insect species. Trapping efforts are labor intensive, and the lures themselves can be relatively expensive, so it's important to use effective lures. Researchers Rick Kelsey and Doug Westlind, with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, have finetuned a more effective lure recipe to trap red turpentine beetles in Pacific Northwest forests. More effective lures will improve monitoring efforts and may also be used for early detection of invasive red turpentine beetles from China carrying exotic pathogens. The researchers also found the accuracy of an existing model that predicts delayed mortality for large ponderosa pine after fire exposure substantially improved when information about the presence or absence of red turpentine beetles was included. This improved accuracy can help land managers better identify large, dying pines after wildfire and inform science-based management plans that address pre- and postfire management efforts for both prescribed burns and wildfire.