Dendroctonus micans (great spruce bark beetle)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Plant Trade
- Wood Packaging
- Environmental Impact
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Dendroctonus micans (Kugelann, 1794)
Preferred Common Name
- great spruce bark beetle
Other Scientific Names
- Bostrichus micans Kugelann, 1794
- Hylesinus ligniperda Gyllenhal, 1813
International Common Names
- English: beetle, European spruce
- French: hylesine geant; le dendroctonus geant de l'epicea; le hylesine geant de l'epicea
Local Common Names
- Denmark: kjemperbarkbille
- Finland: ukkoniluri
- Germany: Riesenbastkaefer; Riesenbastkäfer
- Netherlands: Sparrebastkever
- Norway: kjemperbarkbille
- Sweden: jättebastborre
- DENCMI (Dendroctonus micans)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Scolytidae
- Genus: Dendroctonus
- Species: Dendroctonus micans
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page D. micans was originally described as Bostrichus micans by Kugelann in 1794 and as Hylesinus ligniperda by Gyllenhal in 1813 (Grüne, 1979). This insect was designated as the type species of the genus Dendroctonus, when Erichson described the genus in 1836 (Wood, 1982).
DescriptionTop of page Eggs
Scolytidae eggs are smooth, ovoid, white and translucent. They are 1.2 mm long and deposited in clusters of 100-150 in the egg gallery.
All Scolytidae larvae are similar in appearance and difficult to separate. They are white, 'C'-shaped and legless. The head capsule is lightly sclerotized and amber with dark, well-developed mouthparts. Each abdominal segment has two to three tergal folds and the pleuron is not longitudinally divided. The larvae do not change as they grow. Spruce beetle larvae have four larval instars and are 4-6 mm long when mature (Holsten et al., 1989).
Scolytid pupae are white and mummy-like. They are exarate, with legs and wings free from the body. Some species have paired abdominal urogomphi. The elytra are either rugose or smooth, sometimes with a prominent head and thoracic tubercles.
The adults are 6-9 mm long, dark-brown and cylindrical. The legs and antennae are yellow-brown. The head is visible when viewed dorsally and the elytral declivity is smooth and rounded.
DistributionTop of page
D. micans is believed to have originated in the conifer forests of Asia. When determining the geographic distribution of this insect it is difficult to establish whether it is native or introduced because of its unique history.
It has steadily spread westward over the past 100 years, undoubtedly aided by the increased trade in unprocessed logs. At present, it is found throughout Eurasia and has adapted to a wide range of forest conditions. This insect is now established across most of western Europe from European Russia, west to Belgium and France, south to Turkey, and north to Finland and Sweden. It was discovered in the UK in 1982.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 23 Apr 2020
Risk of IntroductionTop of page The adults can fly at least 2 to 3 km in search of new hosts but prefer to attack either the same trees in which they developed or immediately adjacent trees. The adults can disperse on air currents. Other life stages are confined to the cambium layer and inner bark, and do not naturally disperse.
Pathways for human-assisted dispersal include the transport of unprocessed pine logs or lumber, crates, pallets and dunnage, containing bark strips. It is conceivable that larvae, pupae and overwintering adults could survive an ocean voyage and be introduced into a new location. Should this new location contain forests with a component of spruce, D. micans could become established and cause severe damage. The related North American red turpentine beetle, Dendroctonus valens, has recently been introduced to and established in, China, and has killed more than 6 million pines in recent years (Sun et al., 2003).
Most Eurasian conifer forests now have populations of D. micans. However, this insect is not present in North America. Therefore, North American conifer forests are at risk from the introduction and establishment of this insect.
HabitatTop of page D. micans normally occurs in mature spruce forests. Within its natural range, this insect typically causes low levels of tree mortality and is not considered to be a major pest.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page D. micans primarily breeds in spruce (Picea spp.), especially Picea abies (Norway spruce), Picea sitchensis (Sitka spruce) and Picea orientalis (Oriental spruce) (Grégoire, 1988). It also breeds in other Eurasian spruce species such as Picea asperata (dragon spruce), Picea crassifolia (Qinghai spruce), Picea ajanensis [Picea jezoensis] (ezo spruce), Picea obovata (Siberian spruce) and Picea omorika (Serbian spruce), as well as in several North American spruce species that have been introduced into its geographic range. These include Picea breweriana (Brewer spruce), Picea engelmannii (Engelman spruce), Picea glauca (white spruce), Picea mariana (black spruce) and Picea pungens (blue spruce) (Grégoire, 1988; Evans and King, 1989). Pines (Pinus spp.), especially Pinus sylvestris (Scotch pine), have also been attacked, especially in Estonia, Poland, Scandinavia and Siberia (Kolomiets and Isaev, 1981; Markov, 1985; Voolma, 1993).
D. micans is also known to attack several other pines, including Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine), Pinus nigra (black pine), Pinus sylvestris var. hamata, Pinus strobus (white pine) and Pinus uncinata (mountain pine). It also attacks fir trees; Abies alba (silver fir), Abies nordmanniana (Nordmann fir), Abies sibirica (Siberian fir) and Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir); and larch, Larix decidua (European larch) (Grégoire, 1988; Smith et al., 1992; Wood and Bright, 1992; Wainhouse and Beech-Garwood, 1994).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Growth StagesTop of page Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page Heavily infested trees have large numbers of conspicuous purplish-brown pitch tubes on the bark surface of the lower boles. Lightly infested trees usually survive beetle attack. Therefore, several generations of beetles could emerge from a tree that still has green foliage. The bark often easily peels away in areas where the larvae have consumed the inner bark. Removal of the bark from infested portions of trees will reveal characteristic galleries, larvae, pupae and adults (Bevan and King, 1983; Grégoire, 1988).
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Leaves / yellowed or dead|
|Stems / gummosis or resinosis|
|Stems / internal feeding|
|Stems / necrosis|
|Whole plant / frass visible|
|Whole plant / internal feeding|
|Whole plant / plant dead; dieback|
Biology and EcologyTop of page Life History and Habits
The genus Dendroctonus consists of 19 species, worldwide. Most occur on conifers in North and Central America. Dendroctonus armandi (native to China) and D. micans are found in Palearctic conifer forests (Wood, 1982). Several species are important forest pests, capable of reaching epidemic levels and killing thousands of trees. The genus Dendroctonus contains some of the most destructive forest insects in North and Central America, including the southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis), mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), Douglas-fir beetle (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae) and the spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis).
D. micans exhibits a number of life cycle characteristics that make it unique among Dendroctonus species. Mating takes place under the bark prior to emergence and before the adult beetles are fully chitinized. Sibling males normally mate the females (incestuous mating). The ratio of males to females is low. Typically the sex ratio is one male per 10 females but can be as low as one male per 45 females. The phenomenon of pre-emergence mating precludes the need for females to attract males. Therefore, there is no adult aggregation pheromone.
The adult beetles can remain underneath the bark of the trees in which they developed for long periods, if the conditions for emergence are not suitable. They often mine in large groups, among their original larval galleries, chewing the larval frass and sometimes forming 'nose to tail' columns within the brood excavations. When emergence does occur, the adults cut round emergence holes through the thin bark that covers the brood system. The emergence holes can be constructed well ahead of the actual emergence and large quantities of powdery frass are ejected. Emergence can occur over a protracted period, with many beetles using the same emergence hole.
The mated females emerge to attack either new trees or unattacked portions of the host tree from which they emerged. Adult flight and, more commonly, walking, play an important part in adult dispersal. This typically leads to small groups of attacked trees. Sometimes no adult emergence occurs and new brood areas are established in the same tree, along the margins of existing galleries.
D. micans is different from the more aggressive North American Dendroctonus species in that it usually attacks its hosts in low numbers, killing the bark in patches. Successive attacks, over a period of 5 to 8 years, may be necessary to kill a tree, except during outbreaks.
The temperature threshold for adult flight is reported to be 21-23°C. However, in Britain, initial flight at 20°C with sustained flight at 14°C has been observed.
Beetle attacks often occur around areas of damage on a tree, which may have been caused by lightning or logging. Attacks are often associated with decreased resin pressure and commonly occur in forked or multi-stemmed trees, just below the branch nodes. In some countries, there appears to be an association between beetle attack and the occurrence of root disease caused by fungi such as Heterobasidium annosum or Armellaria sp.. However, apparently healthy trees are also commonly attacked.
The female bores through the bark and establishes a brood chamber. She clears the resin that accumulates during the attack process by mixing it with frass and expelling it through the entrance hole. The expelled resin mixed with frass is purplish-brown and gives rise to resin tubes, which are characteristic of D. micans. These can be seen on the bark surface of infested trees. When the female reaches the cambium, she bores upwards for approximately 2 cm, constructs an egg chamber and deposits a cluster of between 100 and 150 eggs. These are covered with frass and wood dust. Then she may produce additional egg chambers, leading to a mix of several larval instars in the same family group, or she may attack other portions of the tree or adjacent trees.
Newly hatched larvae feed gregariously, side by side, in a brood gallery that becomes larger as the larvae feed. The size of the brood gallery varies according to the number of larvae present. A large brood of larvae can construct a gallery that is 30-60 cm long and 10-20 cm wide. When several females oviposit close to each other, the individual galleries coalesce. This can cause extensive injury to the tree.
The larval colony feeds upwards and outwards from its origin. The frass and dead bodies of siblings are tightly packed into the area behind the feeding front. The larvae produce an aggregation pheromone; a mixture of trans- and cis-verbenol, verbenone and myrtenol, which sustains larval aggregation. There are five larval instars. When feeding is completed, they move back into the islands of tightly packed frass and construct single pupal chambers.
The time required for D. micans to complete one generation in the field ranges from 1 to 3 years, depending on local temperatures. In Great Britain, the time to complete a generation ranges from 10 to 18 months (Fielding and Evans, 1997). In Turkey and the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia, 12 to 15 months are required to complete a generation and in the Nordic countries, 2 to 3 years may be required (Grégoire, 1988).
D. micans does not appear to be associated with any major pathogenic fungi (Serez, 1979; Kolomiets and Isaev, 1981; Grégoire, 1988; King and Fielding, 1989).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis||Pathogen|
|Bracon hylobii||Parasite||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Dolichomitus terebrans||Parasite||Pupae||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Dromius quadrimaculatus||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Lonchaea collini||Parasite||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Melanotus villosus||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Nudobius lentus||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Placusa depressa||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Raphidia ophiopsis||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Raphidia xanthostigma||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Rhizophagus grandis||Predator||Larvae||Estonia; Italy; Republic of Georgia; UK||Picea; Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Scoloposcelis pulchella||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Thanasimus femoralis||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
|Thanasimus formicarius||Predator||Estonia||Picea abies; Pinus sylvestris|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page D. micans has few natural enemies. This may be due to its unique biology, which seems to protect it from competitors and generalist natural enemies (Everaerts et al., 1988). One specific predator, Rhizophagus grandis, is abundant in areas where D. micans has been present for long periods of time. This beetle is believed to be responsible for maintaining a low and stable D. micans population in these areas (Kobakhidzi, 1965; Moeck and Safranyik, 1983). Woodpeckers (Picoides major) prey on the larvae and pupae.
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Bark||adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
|True seeds (inc. grain)|
Wood PackagingTop of page
|Wood Packaging liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Timber type||Used as packing|
|Solid wood packing material with bark||Picea spp., Pinus spp.||Yes|
|Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Loose wood packing material|
|Processed or treated wood|
|Solid wood packing material without bark|
ImpactTop of page Within most of its natural range, D. micans normally occurs at low levels and causes little tree mortality. However, occasionally outbreaks do occur and result in widespread tree mortality. Most outbreaks occur along the leading edge of the geographic range of D. micans and not within the interior portion of the range. Trees are killed as a result of the girdling action of larval feeding. This can take place over a period of several years. As D. micans extended its range westward into Europe (France and the UK) and southwestern Asia (Georgia and Turkey) during the late 1900s, outbreaks occurred on more than 200,000 ha of spruce forests (Grégoire, 1988; Vouland and Schvester, 1994; Konca, 1995). In some cases, older trees were preferentially attacked (Carle et al., 1979) while in other instances, all age classes of spruce trees were attacked (Battisti, 1984; Benz, 1984; Evans et al., 1984). Similarly, when D. micans attacked Pinus sylvestris in Estonia (Voolma, 1978) and Siberia (Kolomiets and Bogdanova, 1976), both young and old trees were infested. Normally, D. micans only colonizes green standing trees, but it will attack trees that are stressed as a result of logging damage, frost, snow, wind, lightning, poor soil nutrition and drought (Chararas 1960; Bejer-Petersen, 1976; Novak, 1976; Voolma, 1978; Battisti, 1984; Shavliashvili and Zharkov, 1985; Gabeev and Gnat, 1986; Grégoire, 1988).
Environmental ImpactTop of page Sustained attack on individual trees can result in tree mortality. Widespread outbreaks are common, especially along the leading edge of the D. micans range. Outbreaks have occurred in spruce forests and, to a lesser extent, in Scotch pine forests. In some cases more than 50% tree mortality has occurred. Outbreaks are often more common in forests that are stressed by drought, poor soil nutrition and logging damage, for example.
Detection and InspectionTop of page The bark surface should be inspected for pitch tubes and/or boring dust. The cambium and inner bark of unprocessed logs, or dunnage, crates or pallets, containing bark strips, should be inspected for the presence of galleries and insect life stages.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page Morphologically, D. micans is difficult to distinguish from the North American species, Dendroctonus punctatus and the two species were thought to be conspecific. However, it has now been established that they are distinct species (Furniss, 1996; Kegley et al., 1997). The communal larval galleries of D. micans resemble the galleries of the North American black turpentine beetle, Dendroctonus terebrans, the red turpentine beetle, Dendroctonus valens and the Mexican species, Dendroctonus rhizophagus. However, all of the latter species confine their attacks to Pinus spp.. To ensure positive identification, a taxonomist, with expertise in the family Scolytidae, should examine bark beetles believed to be a new introduction.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Cultural Control
The felling, removal and rapid processing of infested trees to destroy broods is a widely used control method for D. micans. The thinning of overstocked forests will help to reduce their susceptibility to attack.
Classical biological control, involving the mass rearing and release of the predaceous beetle, Rhizophagus grandis, has been used in France (Grégoire et al., 1989, 1992; van Averbeke and Grégoire, 1995), the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia (Tvaradze, 1984; Evans, 1987), Turkey (Alkan and Aksu, 1990) and the UK (King and Evans, 1984; Fielding et al., 1991; Evans and Fielding, 1996; Fielding and Evans, 1997).
Insecticide application to infested portions of the lower boles of trees has been undertaken but with questionable success. For example, extensive chemical control operations were undertaken in Turkey between 1967 and 1985. However, treatments were not successful, except for a slight decrease in the populations of the pest (DKOA, 2001).
Since this insect does not produce an aggregating pheromone, pheromonal control is not a viable control method.
In the UK, surveys designed for the early detection of new infestations or for general forest health monitoring have failed to detect infestations until the beetle has been present for approximately 3 years and has become well-established. However, ground surveys, especially near areas of old infestations, can be conducted to detect infested trees that should be removed from stands.
D. micans does not produce an aggregating pheromone, therefore the use of pheromones for the early detection of infestations is not feasible.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated pest management (IPM) of this insect consists of the timely detection of infestations, the rapid removal and processing of infested trees, thinning of overstocked stands to reduce their susceptibility to attack and the release of the predator, Rhizophagus grandis, into areas where this insect has recently spread.
ReferencesTop of page
Alkan S; Aksu Y, 1990. Research on rearing techniques for Rhizophagus grandis Gyll. (Coleoptera, Rhizophagidae). Proceedings of the Second Turkish National Congress of Biological Control Izmir, Turkey; Ege Universitesi, 173-179
Averbeke A van; Grégoire JC, 1995. Establishment and spread of Rhizophagus grandis Gyll. (Coleoptera: Rhizophagidae) 6 years after release in the Foret domaniale du Mezenc (France). Annales des Sciences Forestieres, 52(3):243-250
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Chararas C, 1960. Variations de la pression osmotique de Picea excelsa a la suite des attaques de Dendroctonus micans Kug. (Coleoptera, Scolytidae). Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Siances de I'Acadgmie des Sciences, 251(18):1917-1919.
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Evans HF; Fielding NJ, 1996. Restoring the natural balance: biological control of Dendroctonus micans in Great Britain. Biological control introductions - opportunities for improved crop production. In: Proceedings of an International Symposium Brighton, UK 18 November 1996., 45-57; 23 ref.
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Sun J; Gillette NE; Miao Z; Kang L; Zhang Z; Owen DR; Stein JD, 2003. Verbenone interrupts attraction to host volatiles and reduces attack on Pinus tabuliformis (Pinaceae) by Dendroctonus valens (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) in the People's Republic of China. Canadian Entomologist, 135(5):721-732.
Tvaradze MS, 1984. Rhizophagus grandis in integrated control systems of forest protection against Dendroctonus micans. In: Proceedings of the International Congress of Entomology, Hamburg, 17:610.
Vakula J; Zúbrik M; Galko J; Gubka A; Kunca A; Pavlík J; Nikolov C, 2016. First record of Dendroctonus micans (Kugelann, 1794) on non-native spruces in Slovakia - short communication. Plant Protection Science, 52(4):277-282. http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/195405.pdf
Voolma K, 1993. The occurrence of the great European spruce bark beetle, Dendroctonus micans Kug. (Coleoptera, Scolytidae), as a pest of Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris L. Metsanduslikud Uurimused, 26:113-124; 84 ref.
Voolma KK, 1978. Dendroctonus micans, distribution and damage caused. Lesnoe Khozyaistvo, 4:90-91.
Wood SL; Bright DE, 1992. A catalog of Scolytidae and Platypodidae (Coleoptera), Part 2: Taxonomic index. Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs, 13: 1-1553.
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CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
DKOA, 2001. Bark beetles., Trabzon, Turkey: Eastern Black Sea Research Institute. http://www.angelfire.com/fl4/yuksel/yukselenglish.htm
Evans HF, King CJ, 1989. Biological control of Dendroctonus micans (Coleoptera: Scolytidae): British experience of rearing and release of Rhyzophagus grandis (Coleoptera: Rhizophagidae). In: Potential for Biological Control of Dendroctonus and Ips beetles, [ed. by Kulhavy DL, Miller MC]. Texas, USA: Center for Applied Studies, School of Forestry, Stephen F. Austin State University. 109-128.
Jurc M, 2006. Norway spruce - Picea abies (L.) Karsten. Insects on trunks, branches and in the wood - Part II. Dryocoetes autographus, Cryphalus abietis, Dendroctonus micans, Xyloterus lineatus, Hylastes cunicularius, Crypturgus pusillus. (Navadna smreka - Picea abies (L.) Karsten. Žuželke na deblih, vejah in v lesu. Dryocoetes autographus, Cryphalus abietis, Dendroctonus micans, Xyloterus lineatus, Hylastes cunicularius, Crypturgus pusillus.). Gozdarski Vestnik. 64 (2), 81-96. http://www.dendro.bf.uni-lj.si/gozdv.html
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Vakula J, Zúbrik M, Galko J, Gubka A, Kunca A, Pavlík J, Nikolov C, 2016. First record of Dendroctonus micans (Kugelann, 1794) on non-native spruces in Slovakia - short communication. Plant Protection Science. 52 (4), 277-282. http://www.agriculturejournals.cz/publicFiles/195405.pdf
Wood SL, Bright DE, 1992. A catalog of Scolytidae and Platypodidae (Coleoptera), Part 2: Taxonomic index. In: Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs, 13 1-1553.
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