Diary of a mad homeowner

The trials and tribulations of fixing up a house filled with character but not much else


Ips beetles

It’s always something with these trees.

Before the heavy rains set in I had several trees start to turn yellow, then brown, then die all within two weeks. Some of these trees were 50 feet tall and bigger than an average lodgepole and with so many dying, I began to research and brought in some experts.

My tree guy, Chris, didn’t really have any idea what was wrong and why the trees were dying at such an alarming rate. We both agreed it was time to go to an expert. I contacted the CSU Extension Service in Lakewood and they’re a wonderful resource for anyone with agricultural questions and problems. The cost for this service is $75 plus mileage from the office and back. Total: $129.

A representative came out and spent an hour walking the property and even dropped one of the yellow trees to make a diagnosis. He skinned a small section of bark and underneath were Ips Beetle larvae and they’re the culprits, eating the tree from the inside out.

There are 11 varieties of Ips Beetle in Colorado and though it’s not necessary to diagnose exactly which beetle is eating your trees, the remedy is the same. The beetles rarely attack healthy trees and overgrown forests such as mine are prime candidates for an infestation.

Overgrown? What? If you’ve been following my blog you know I’ve spent a lot of money and time on those trees. Each year hundreds of trees have come down and how can it still be crowded? Well, according to CSU’s expert, my trees are still too crowded to be healthy. The more trees on an acre the more competition there is for water and light and that stresses trees out. Stressed trees are ripe targets for beetles.

CSU-guy gave me both good and bad news: take down the infested trees, clear out all trees with canker or some sort of tree damage (which allow the beetles to invade and conquer) and thin, thin, thin. Other options include spraying which can be toxic and sometimes ineffective. The option was clear: thin, thin, thin.

Chris marked another 100 trees to drop including the biggest tree on my property that came down in sections. The diagnosis on that tree? Ips beetle. Chris hacked it up and hauled it and all the trees and slash from this round of felling. CSU said it’s not necessary to haul the slash off that the entire state has Ips beetle and they’re not as aggressive or damaging as the Pine beetle but still, with my luck, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

It was hard to watch Chris haul off about 5 loads of trees and slash. After all, that was the money for my new kitchen cabinets.

Here’s some information about Ips beetles should you be unlucky enough have them visit your trees:

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