Bark Beetles

Bark beetles are small, cylindrical insects that attack and kill mature trees by boring through the bark and mining the phloem — the layer between the bark and wood of a tree. The most destructive group of forest pests in the province, bark beetles cause widespread mortality to mature forests.

Major Bark Beetle Species in B.C.

Although many bark beetle species exist in B.C., only four pose significant management concerns. Read more about the beetles and the management regimes designed for them.  

  • Mountain pine beetles — attack lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine and white pine trees from mid July to mid August. Mountain pine beetles have a one-year life cycle.
  • Spruce beetles — attack Englemann spruce, white spruce and Sitka spruce trees from late May to early July. These insects have a two-year life cycle but may also have a one year life cycle under ideal conditions.
  • Douglas-fir beetles — attack trees from late April through June and have a one-year life cycle.
  • Western balsam bark beetles — attack mature true firs, particularly subalpine fir, throughout the host's range. This beetle differs from the other major bark beetle species by its damage being more chronic.

For help identifying bark beetle damage or other forest health damage, refer to the Field Guide to Forest Damage in B.C. (PDF, 6.5MB).

The following guidebook addresses strategies for controlling three of B.C.'s four major bark beetle species. For further information, refer to the Bark beetle management guidebook (PDF) on each species.