Ontario’s lush northern forests could be the next feast for an invasive insect following the path created by the warming climate.
A native species in British Columbia, the voracious mountain pine beetle is poised to move into Ontario’s vast boreal forest where researchers fear they could replicate the massive tree die-offs first witnessed in B.C. and Alberta.
The black beetle, about the size of a grain of rice, has taken advantage of a shifting climate to radically reshape the forests of Western Canada. Typically kept in check by extended periods of cold winter weather below -35 C, the beetle has thrived in warmer temperatures, allowing it to devastate mature lodgepole pines by laying eggs beneath the bark and starving the tree of nutrients. Needles turn red and grey before falling off within four years.