A European beetle that arrived in North America in the ballasts of ships will likely spread throughout Canada and present a major threat to the lumber and Christmas tree industries, says a University of Toronto researcher.
A three-year study headed by Professor Sandra Smith of forestry found that the Introduced Pine Shoot Beetle, first sighted in Ontario in 1993, has few natural enemies here that could stop it from feeding on Canada's Red, White and Jack pines. Six native parasites as well as some native beetle species will attack this voracious insect but they don't appear to be major threats to the foreign beetle, she says.
"People who own pine stands must be vigilant when it comes to tree sanitation and maintenance," warns Smith. "That means knowing when to harvest and how to leave an area free of dead limbs and bark which the beetle can burrow under." Smith adds that the lumber industry will have to reassess how trees are stored, especially those waiting to be processed. Not only lumber forests but tourist attractions such as national parks could be decimated by this beetle. "As of 1997, the Introduced Pine Shoot Beetle had infested 18 Ontario counties and our research shows that during a warm summer and fall, they could reproduce not once but twice," says Smith, whose research is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
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