The valley’s other tree epidemic |

The valley’s other tree epidemic

Tom Boyd

Many people know of the mountain pine beetle infestation spreading through our lodgepole forests, but there’s another little critter nibbling on our trees in the valley: the white pine weevil.The small beetle lives underground, then emerges to fly or climb to the top of trees, where females implant eggs underneath the bark.The most commonly affected are spruce trees, a popular landscaping tree and Colorado’s official state tree. The weevil attacks the tops of the tree, killing the top portion of the tree before moving on to its next victim.”The closest I can tell the white pine weevil was introduced into this area sometime in the 1990s,” said registered consulting arborist Mark Stelle of Edwards. “And for some reason, I’m not sure why, that particular insect is quite happy in our environment.”The valley’s higher elevations have been spared attacks, but the valley floor from West Vail down to Edwards has seen an outbreak over the past 10 years.Stelle said the infestation is treatable, but the best time to treat is before May 15. A cold, wet spring may extend the deadline a bit this year, however, Stelle said.Once the tree has been infested, it is possible to cut the top of the tree off but be sure to cut at least six inches below where the trees have been infected. If the tree isn’t treated it will grow from a new leader, eventually making the top of a tree look like a cabbage instead of a cone, Stelle said.Once the top of the tree is cut, Stelle said, it’s possible to encourage a new leader to grow straight upward and preserve the healthy appearance of the tree.For more information, consult a tree specialist or arborist.

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