June 20, 2008

Spraying best shot at infestation prevention
Woodside starts spraying
By Mike Potter
Staff Writer

DAMAGED TREES  Lodgepole pine trees could end up looking like this one as pine beetles make their way into Park County. Many homeowners are taking preventative measures against the invasion by spraying at-risk trees with permethrin. (Flume file photo)

Two to four gallons of prevention is worth a lot when there is no cure.

Colorado homeowners associations not content to sit back and watch the oncoming pine beetle invasion devastate pine trees have taken action.

The Woodside Homeowners Association in the Pine Junction area has contacted Westminster-based Safari Tree and Landcare to spray down pine trees with Permethiin in hopes that it will make the little bugs less willing to set up shop in landowners’ yards.

“This is only a preventative measure,” said Safari owner Brett Lynch Smith.

No cure

Mountain pine beetles devastate pine trees by burrowing through the bark and eating the tree.

Colorado State Forest Service entomologist David Leatherman said the spray mixture is applied to the bark of a tree 30 feet up, or to a point where the tree is less than six inches in diameter, whichever comes first.

For the treatment to be effective, it must be applied between May 1 and July 15 on an annual basis during the years when the risks of beetles is high, he said.

Other HOAs interested

But not every HOA is getting involved right away.

Cameron Wright, Burland Property Owners Association president, said he had not heard of any pine beetle spraying programs, but he did say he would be interested.

Summit County lodgepole forests have been devastated by pine beetle infestation, and the insects are thought to be coming over Hoosier Pass and into Park County.

Platte Canyon Fire Protection District Fire Chief Jeff Davis said there are reports of pine beetle-damaged trees in Alma already, and the threat is imminent for Bailey residents.

According to information from the Colorado State Forest Service, pine beetles typically take flight between July 15 and Sept. 15; with peak flight times in late August, although dates can vary with weather conditions.

“During this time, beetle pairs (male and female) will attempt to bore into the bark through one hole, form an egg gallery; and lay approximately 75 eggs,” it said.

One infested tree can produce enough beetles to kill three trees, it said.

The trees die and dry out, increasing fire danger, Davis said, and therein lies one incentive to reduce the spread of the pine beetles.

Ingrid Aguayo, forest entomologist for the CSU Colorado State Forest Service, told The Flume in March that the recent epidemic has been mainly concentrated in lodgepole pines.

Pine beetles can attack ponderosa, lodgepole, Scotch, and limber pines, and less commonly Bristlecone and pinyon pines.

But, said Aguayo, this infestation started with lodgepole pines, and “when they start in one species of tree, they usually stay within that species.”

Lynch said he has been spraying trees for a number of years and is working in a number of subdivisions in the area, and has seen the demand for tree spraying increasing as the beetles march onward into new territory. At Woodside he has sprayed only lodgepole pines, and as a preventative measure, he said. It’s best to time the treatment correctly to get the most out of spraying, he added.

“What you need to do is time your spray right before they fly,” he said. “I’ve found that between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July is typically the best time. You’re sure to get the chemical on before they fly.”

He sprayed trees in the 1970s and, in his opinion; the chemicals he used in those days worked better, but were later banned by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Today, he uses a chemical called Permethrin.

He uses that particular chemical because five quarts per 100 gallons of water is used rather than another chemical, carbaryl, which uses four gallons per 100 gallons of water.

He sprays the tree in accordance with the Colorado State Forest Service’s instructions, up 30 feet. He said it takes him approximately one minute to spray a tree.

“What you need to do is time your spray right before they fly. I’ve found that between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July is typically the best time. You’re sure to get the chemical on before they fly.”

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